Local Business Wins Innovation Award

·5 min read

Thursday, December 3rd Wakaw’s Holly Madden, owner and operator of Steve’s Barber Shop, was the recipient of a cheque for $3000 from Sagehill Community Futures as one of five winners of the Innovation Through COVID-19 Award. Individuals throughout the region nominated small businesses who “demonstrated innovation and creativity in the past months to continue selling their products and services”. Nominations were open from October 25 to November 7 and then people were able to cast their votes from November 15th to the 28th. Holly picked up the scissors at Steve’s Barber Shop in October of 2015 and chose to keep the name Steve’s Barber Shop in honour of Steve Slusar, the original Steve, who ran the barber shop for years in Wakaw. Staying true to the barber shop model, Holly only works on men’s hair and up until the arrival of COVID-19 offered both appointments and walk-ins. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make business owners rethink how they operate and once the Re-open Saskatchewan strategy allowed, Holly was back at it albeit without her drop-in clients. The waiting area for now sits empty as only one client can be served at a time, but once the safety restrictions ease and the COVID-19 virus has been contained, the comfortable looking chairs will once more provide a resting spot for those awaiting their time in the barber’s chair.

The Sagehill Community Futures Development Corporation grew out of the 1994 amalgamation of the boards of the Sagehill Business Development Centre and the Sagehill Community Futures Committee and its history is an interesting one. Their webpage states, “Every business is important. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our region and we’re pleased to provide answers to your questions, to lend a compassionate ear, to listen and to support you on your journey to small business success. Our staff has more than 50 years of experience working with small business owners and look forward to speaking with you about your business idea.”

In 1984, the federal Conservative government led by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney made the decision together with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, to close several radar stations across North America including along what was known as the Northern Pine Tree Line and in March 1985 CFS Dana received official notice that the station would close removing 400 people from the region, ending 42 civilian jobs and resulting in millions of dollars no longer being spent in the local economy. Most affected by the closure of CFS Dana were the communities of Bruno, Cudworth, Prud’homme, Vonda, Meacham, Colonsay, Viscount and Wakaw. The federal government invited the impacted communities to use a programming tool called a Labour Market Adjustment Strategy in an attempt to counteract the negative economic impact of the closure. Representatives from the towns of Bruno, Cudworth, Colonsay, Vonda, and Wakaw along with the villages of Prud’homme, Viscount, and Meacham joined representatives of the RM’s of Bayne, Colonsay, Fish Creek, Grant, and Hoodoo to begin planning on how to address what was seen locally as the ‘catastrophic’ closure of CFS Dana. These local representatives spent countless hours studying strategies, looking for ways to ensure the local economy could stay strong after the closure. Applying for Community Futures status was one such strategy. The program was administered by Employment and Immigration and it provided funding to areas that for one thing, were experiencing a “traumatic” labour market event and as a result had a higher unemployment rate than the provincial average. Thus, the application was made and in 1985 the Sagehill region was awarded Community Futures status. The name Sagehill comes from CFS Dana. In the early 1970’s, Canada Post introduced the use of postal codes and each community or area in a community was given their own postal code. CFS Dana had its own post office and therefore needed a community name so that a specific postal code could be assigned and the name Sagehill was given to the community and its post office.

“Being awarded Community Futures status meant the municipal members of the Sagehill Community Futures Committee were permitted to source specific government contributions that would provide the seed money to start making their plans to encourage positive community development.” (https://cfsask.ca/sagehill/sagehill-about) In 1994 the Sagehill region expanded from its original 13 municipalities to include 72. The Sagehill region is large and diverse but the Members of the Sagehill Board “take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective programs and services that provide the people of our region with the critical tools and support they require to achieve their dreams.” Sagehill Community Futures provides a wide range of financial and technical services to small business owners and upcoming entrepreneurs. The future of communities is in the businesses that exist there and SCF can provide the information, advice, small business financing, and business management or leadership training opportunities to get the business or project off the ground. Owning your own business is a big decision, but the people at SCF have been there as a sounding board and as support for many other entrepreneurs in the region discussing everything from registering a business name to creating an appropriate business structure, from marketing to bookkeeping to inventory control, and human resources to competing in a big box world.

So, if starting a business or even purchasing an existing business is an aspiration connect with the people at Sagehill Community Futures. Check out their website: www.sagehill.ca, email: info@sagehill.ca or telephone: (306)369-2610 or toll free 1-888-732-8999

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder