The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) has hired a Regional Business Liaison through the funding from the National Development Initiative Trust (NDIT).
Earlier this year, the NDIT put in place a Regional Business Liaison program for encouraging various entities like the Community Futures Development Corporations, chambers of commerce, local governments, community economic development entities, or regional destination marketing organizations to hire locally based talent to provide business support services to support small and medium sized enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RDBN was one of the 11 entities to have been awarded the program and now hired Erik Sagmoen as the Regional Business Liaison for the regional district. Sagmoen recently moved to Burns Lake from the lower mainland after completing a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences and a B.A. that included Psychology, Labour Studies, Economics and First Nations Studies.
The position, based in Burns Lake, will have Sagmoen travelling throughout the different communities of the regional district, to assist businesses and non-profit organizations to navigate the supports available during COVID-19.
“The Regional District Liaison will be working with businesses and not-for profit organizations to help them navigate the work available during Covid-19. So he will talk with businesses, help them recognize challenges and then help them connect with supports that are available with the federal government, provincial government or through other organizations that are providing support through funding and grants,” Nellie Davis.
Davis also said that Sagmoen would be available to work with any community within the regional district and that both Davis and Sagmoen have already started venturing out to communities and connecting with local economic development officers, chambers of commerce to figure out the kind of work they already have under way and how else Sagmoen can support them.
Other entities and organizations for whom the Regional Business Liaison position has been approved by NDIT are the Community Futures Nadina, Community Futures Peace Liard, Community Futures Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Community Futures Fraser Fort George, Fort Nelson Chamber of Commerce, Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Sun Country, Community Futures North Cariboo, Haida Gwaii Community Futures and Community Futures Pacific Northwest.
“One of the great things about this program is that it could allow a great community-specific approach; when you think of Northern BC, you think of small rural towns and that they might have similar challenges but I think that’s not necessarily the case. A place like Fraser Lake will have very different challenges than Smithers which has such a high tourism operating base. So even within the region, the needs are quite diverse and one of the strongest points of the program is that we will have someone on the ground,” said Davis adding that since the program was brand new, they would keep on improving it, depending on the changing needs of the community and what stage of restart the province is in.
RDBN is also getting an intern through NDIT’s local government internship program to work on Business Continuity Planning and implementing a new Records Management System. Chantal Wentland, who is from Prince George, would be interning with the RDBN for a year.