Residents, local organizations and business leaders came together at the Grand Forks Art Gallery Oct. 20 to celebrate a significant milestone for Community Futures Boundary: its 30th anniversary.
“Tonight is about stories. Stories that have been told and cultivated over 30 years,” said Jennifer Wetmore, Executive Director for Community Futures Boundary, recalling the organization’s 1992 launch in Greenwood.
From those early days when a staff of four lent money to business and worked on economic development projects across the Boundary Region, today 11 staff are guided by 11 volunteer Directors on our Board. “We manage multiple projects, network regionally, provincially and federally, and are very proud of what we do,” Wetmore said. “Not to brag, but Community Futures Boundary is a resounding success story.”
As one of B.C.’s larger Community Futures, the team works to support local small business and individuals looking for a place in the workforce and in the regional economy.
“It’s about all of the stories that you see around you here this evening – about the mom-and-pop shops we’ve helped, about the training we’ve been able to secure that has changed people’s lives for the better, and about the partnerships and projects that we’ve worked on and supported over many many years,” Wetmore said.
• Since 1992, Community Futures Boundary has administered $18.5 million across 450 business loans.
• The 2018 Flood Assistance Program advanced 11 new loans for a total of $110,140, plus $59,500 in additional funds for four existing loans. The federal Regional Relief and Recovery Funds, part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan administered locally by Community Futures Boundary, administered $1.89 million through 60 loans.
• Since 1997, Community Futures Boundary’s Employment Services welcomed an average of 4,000 client visits annually and placed more than 1,000 clients in work experience opportunities. Additional offerings included workshops, job creation projects, and various employment programs, including more than 100 for youth, women, entrepreneurs, persons with disabilities, displaced and/or mature workers.
• Community Economic Development included $350,000 in financial contribution, in addition to volunteer and in-kind support, plus support for economic development, tourism initiatives, business supports and more.
Wetmore recognized some of the many people instrumental to Community Futures Boundary’s growth and success, including current and previous board and staff members. Among those was Wendy McCulloch, who led Community Futures Boundary from 2005 until 2019, and who is now the Executive Director of CF BC.
McCulloch recalled for those gathered how Community Futures was established by the Federal Government in 1985, and today, Community Futures Boundary is one of 267 offices across Canada and 34 offices across B.C., serving every rural community outside the Lower Mainland.
Each Community Futures organization is an independent, not-for-profit society led by a volunteer Board of Directors and staffed by experienced business professionals knowledgeable about economic development issues in their communities, McCulloch noted.
“Community Futures are vital to rural B.C. and to rural Canada – we absolutely make a difference,” she said.
In celebrating Community Futures Boundary, the evening also recognized the region’s local businesses, including many saluted throughout Small Business Month in October.
Funders are also key to the organization’s work, and Wetmore thanked the newly formed Pacific Economic Development Canada, formerly Western Economic Diversification, the Province of B.C., local government partners, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the City of Grand Forks and Kootenay Career Development Services for their ongoing commitment and belief in who we are and what we do.
“To all the businesses we helped to start (many of whom we continue to work with decades later), and the clients who we work with day and in and day out, thank you for your passion and vision and commitment to realizing your dream and thank you for letting us be a part of it,” Wetmore said. “Our success is built on these success stories – from all the businesses and clients who have achieved their goal, got the job, and followed their dream.”