Businesses learn to operate in a global economy.
Northwestern Ontario may be isolated geographically from large markets, but in this age of cyberspace it can still compete in the global economy.
Ideas, information, the drive to get the job done and the money for start-upare all that are required.
To put some fire under current and prospective business people, the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) and Thunder Bay Ventures presented the Getting Down To Business promotional event for entrepreneurs in Thunder Bayon Oct. 24. This date was chosen because it falls during Small Business Week.
Colleen Martin, senior executive assistant of NADF, and Royden Potvin, manager of Thunder Bay Ventures, explained how and why this first joint venture by the two organizations came about.
"NADF and Ventures formed a joint committee to see what business issues were current and where the real opportunities are. Right now, it seems as if exporting across the border is an expanding field."
"This seminar is part of an Ontario-wide effort to promote 60 organizations under CFDC (Community Futures Development Corporations). Working with the Aboriginal people of the district is certainly part of our plan. Thunder Bay Ventures just became part of Community Futures Development Corporations in April of 2002," Potvin said.
These two organizations do similar tasks of promoting businesses and entrepreneurs, but within somewhat different locations. Ventures covers an urban and semi-rural district; NADF covers remote Native communities with Thunder Bay at their hub.
The committee chose seminar topics to reflect what people wanted or needed to know: Export Readiness and Success, Tourism Opportunities in Northern Ontario, Entrepreneurship, Getting Experience to Run a Business, and Provincial Funding Programs for Students.
Students from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, were invited to hear the presentations.
Small business owners such as Lori Chaboyer, who is Metis, came to impart firsthand knowledge on business development. Her business is Moody Roots--she works with indoor and outdoor plants.
Her talk, themed If I Knew Then What I Know Now, emphasized the importance of support and not listening to negativity. Professionals were on hand to discuss funding programs and getting the experience to get started.
The location of Getting Down to Business was unique. The Village Square in a-local mall was chosen, Potvin said, because it is visible and accessible.
"We'd like to raise awareness of what is available--bring it into a public forum," he said. "Going to an office setting to talk about your business plan or ask questions can be intimidating. We're bringing all this to the public."
This event was put on in partnership with Aboriginal Business Canada; Thunder Bay's tourism and economic development department; Fast Forward Thunder Bay; FedNor; Northern Access Centre for Native Business; Northern Ontario Development Network; Northern Ontario Native Tourism Association; Ontario Metis Aboriginal Association; the Metis Nation of Ontario; PARO (a Northwestern Ontario Women's Community Loan Fund); and Youth Employment Services.
Both Potvin and Martin felt Getting Down to Business was successful, and expect their organizations will do this again. For more information call Martin at (807) 623-5397 or Potvin at (807) 768-6650.
BY JOLENE DAVIS