The doors of opportunity have opened wider in Lumby.
After a few years of sharing space with the Whitevalley Community Resource Centre, Community Futures North Okanagan officially opened its own office Wednesday to meet the needs of residents of Lumby, Whitevale, Mabel Lake, Trinity Valley and Cherryville.
“We want to have a profile in the Lumby area,” said Norm Metcalf, general manager of Community Futures, which is headquartered in Vernon.
“We can provide a stronger presence in this part of the region.”
Community Futures is a not-for-profit corporation that offers business and employer services, employment assistance programs and economic development.
The decision to launch a free-standing office drew support from the WCRC and the village.
“We’ve been welcomed by the community,” said Metcalf.
The Lumby office will provide the area’s job seekers with WorkBC employment assistance services.
“They can also see a case manager on site and there is a computer for them to do research,” said Metcalf.
The employment program of B.C. is funded by the provincial and federal governments.
Services at the office are also available to local business owners who can receive coaching and lending to start and grow their businesses.
Attending the opening ceremony was Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA and a charter member of the local Community Futures in 1984.
Foster says the Lumby office is important because it provides easy access for business owners and residents seeking employment instead of them having to drive into Vernon.
“It’s essential that services be available in the community,” he said, adding that a high-profile location in the downtown core also helps.
“There will be people who may not know about the service but they will walk by and see it. It creates opportunities for them.”
Metcalf insists that the goal of his staff is to be on the frontlines in Lumby.
“Business owners are often pressed for time and they will be more inclined to access services if they are close by,” he said.
The new Community Futures office comes at the same time that the Village of Lumby is focused on economic development.
“Unemployment is an issue in all communities so we’re pleased that Community Futures is here to help,” said Mayor Kevin Acton.
Acton is convinced Community Futures’ programs may help some local residents in pursuing their entrepreneurial spirit.
“A lot of people who went north for work are coming back now and they find they may be under-skilled or don’t know which way to go with a career, and this will assist them,” he said.
A similar view comes from Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby director and chairperson of the Regional District of North Okanagan.
Fairbairn says there’s a need for new businesses and job creation to flourish so rural communities are stable.
“Community Futures’ office provides opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” he said.
The office is located at 3-2095 Shuswap Ave. (behind Re-Max) and it’s open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, call 250-547-6483 or go to www.futuresbc.com/