Businesses and not-for-profit (NFP) organizations impacted by the 2017 B.C. wildfires are now able to access up to $10,000 in financial support for training through a new program established by the four Community Futures groups in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, North Cariboo, Sun Country, and Thompson Country regions.
The Business Transition Training Program runs through December 31, 2018. Eligible businesses and NFPs can access up to $5,000 per owner/manager, and up to $2,500 per employee, for a maximum of $10,000 per organization.
“Small businesses in our area are going through a big transition,” says Deb Arnott, general manager of Community Futures Sun Country. “Things will never be the same as they were before July 7, 2017. Many people left and never came back. They stayed with family or friends and found jobs there, or found jobs in Kamloops or Prince George.
“The lack of employees is a huge challenge for employers, who can’t find enough employees, or find that people don’t have the necessary training. This funding could help people get the training they need, such as Foodsafe, first aid, and WHMIS. If you can get people trained they’re more employable, and employees are more loyal to their employer or business if they can get that training.”
The funds can be used for new or existing employees, as long as the training is related to the needs of the business. If training was provided for staff after October 23, 2017, they can be reimbursed to a maximum of $2,500 per employee as long as they attended and kept the receipts.
Arnott says that business owners/managers might decide they want business coaching or a business assessment.
“They might decide they need assistance with their financials, or they want to identify what gaps are there. What do they need to focus on, and what is the strategy? Are they providing the right service and products? Should they expand? The coaching could involve market research, which would help identify what would work for that business.”
Eligible costs for reimbursement include tuition and related costs such as textbooks; mileage if the travel is 50km or more one-way; and other travel costs to a maximum of $1,500. Other eligible training includes upgrading trade certificates, emergency preparedness training, essential skills, and business skills and upgrading related to financial management and accounting, human resources, marketing and communication, and leadership and planning.
The program is intended to help small businesses move forward toward greater economic stability and adjust to changing markets. “We know what businesses need,” says Arnott. “We began negotiating for this last year. We want to work with businesses and get them through.”
For more information about the Business Transition Training Program, or other assistance available to small businesses, contact Community Futures Sun Country at (250) 453-9165, toll-free at 1-800-567-9911, or go to www.cfsun.ca.