By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
In a world where social distancing and online learning has been made the norm, Community Futures East Parkland has succeeded in connecting with the communities they serve.
One of the ways they’ve connected has been through the Community Opportunity Resiliency Project, with funding from the Federal Government for coal transition communities. To that end, Community Futures ran a business planning competition centre in the East Central Region.
“It was a competition I wanted to run to wrap the CROP project with Community Futures East Parkland,” said Nick Schmidt, the organizer of the competition.
“In my working with communities in East Central Alberta, I found that everyone benefited from doing a simple business plan. It answered a lot of questions.”
Community Futures East Parkland covers an area from Lacombe to east of Castor, as far north as Wetaskiwin, and as far south as Big Valley.
This business planning competition was more focused on just the east central area, in the area adjacent to the Paintearth Mine.
“CROP was focused on communities that were affected by closure of the coal mines,” said Schmidt.
“My mine was the Paintearth Mine, so I focused on the communities around it.”
The competition ran from early February, and concluded on March 5th, when all submissions had to be in. Twenty local businesses partook in the competition, with the grand prize winners being announced on March 19th.
The first-place winner of the competition was Fleet-area resident Eric Neilson, and Cabin on the Coulee Farm, taking home the $2,000 prize.
Second place went to Castor area residents Callum Morrison and Tess Griebel of Blue Door Butchers, winning $1,250.
Third place overall went to Halkirk area resident Laura Gamroth and her business V.I.P. Pets, winning $750.
Community Futures East Parkland has more competitions in the works for later on in the year, however how they look will depend on the restrictions in place at the time.
“We want to potentially be in person, but it depends on restrictions,” said Kate Gialson, economic development officer of Community Futures East Parkland.
“We are a very grass roots organization. I like to be in a room and shake someone’s hand.”