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Growing communities, one idea at a time!

By Community Futures

Community Futures Alberta logo

Are you one of the many rural Albertans that has dreamed of starting or buying your own business?

Have you put your dreams on hold because you are unsure where to start? Do you need assistance with financing your idea or business concept? Does the timing is never feel right? It sounds like you could use some advice and counselling!

Did you know that there is an organization that can assist with the answers and perhaps solutions to each of these questions? We might just be your “one stop shop” to making your dream of becoming a business owner a reality, and we are located in your backyard. Have you heard of Community Futures?

Although Community Futures has been around for the past 30 years, many Albertans are amazed about who we are and what we have to offer the communities in rural Alberta.

So who or what is Community Futures? It is a community driven non-profit organization that supports the 800 + rural Alberta communities in business development.

What does that mean to you?

Every one of the 27 Offices in rural Alberta delivers a variety of services including:

At each Community Futures Office, you will find:

  • The staff lives where you live, in your own community.
  • Business Analysts, located at every one of the 27 offices, will sit down with you for a free consultation to discuss your business ideas, provide advice on a business plan and can provide funding through small business loans, even when the banks might say “no”.
  • Pride and passion to assist in building strong local economies by supporting business entrepreneurs in rural Alberta.
  • Partnership with community leaders and other key stakeholders to create plans and projects to strengthen and diversify rural communities.
  • Each of the Community Futures Offices is guided by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of highly motivated and skilled individuals who are dedicated to the economic growth of your community.

Community Futures also provides specialized business programs to empower youth entrepreneurs and persons with disabilities in rural Alberta.

Not only are there 27 Offices in rural Alberta, there are 90 across Western Canada and 269 across Canada! We have a history going back 30 years. In 1985, Community Futures was launched as part of the Canada Jobs Strategy. In 1995, the responsibility for Community Futures was transferred to Western Economic Diversification Canada.

In 2014, the 27 Alberta Community Futures Offices approved 477 loans to rural business valued at almost $28 million which created 2093 rural jobs. We scheduled over 5000 free business meetings and provided 49 business training sessions. It is proven that the businesses supported by Community Futures Alberta outperform non-assisted businesses in employment growth, survival rate and revenue growth (statistics found in annual 2014 annual report by Community Futures Canada). We have helped many businesses over the past 30 years. Here is just one of the many Community Futures success stories found on our website.

It is time to take your idea off the back burner and find out if your dream of being a business owner/rural entrepreneur can become a reality! Your local Community Futures Office is waiting to hear about the creativity, energy and drive behind your business idea. Your local Community Futures Office is just a phone call away.

“Community Futures is growing rural Alberta communities, one idea at a time!”

Growing the Tourism Industry, One Entrepreneur at a Time

By Futurepreneur Canada

Futurpreneur Canada Logo

It’s no secret that tourism is thriving in Alberta right now. According to Alberta Culture and Toursim, there was a total of $8 billion in tourism visitor expenditures and 21.3 million arrivals and departures to the province in 2013

Considering the province has a goal to grow tourism revenues to $10.3 billion by 2020, there are major opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs in Alberta, whether operating within the tourism sector itself or simply benefiting from an influx of visitors to the province.

That’s great news for us at Futurpreneur Canada, because helping young aspiring business owners is at the heart of what we do. In the past 12 months, we helped launch 55 businesses in Alberta through our Start-Up Program. Start-Up offers entrepreneurs up to $45,000 in financing, along with two years of support from a hand-matched business mentor and access to free resources like our interactive Business Plan Writer.

Travel Alberta and the Tourism Division of Alberta Culture and Tourism present current research, findings and updates on Alberta's tourism industry to support the effectiveness of future destination and experience marketing.

Other great resources for researching and understanding tourism trends include:

Internet research is another great tool to find current trends. A simple search can reveal trends that you may not have thought of. You never know where your next innovative idea will come from, and the key to staying current is knowing what experiences are being sought by tourists currently visiting your area.

River Valley Adventure Company: How the company got approvals

By River Valley Adventure Company

For the past four years, guests of the River Valley Adventure Company have glided through the Edmonton river valley on Segway guided tours.

Two people on segways on a snowy trail

Owner/operator Chris Szydlowski has found the process of approvals more collaborative than obstructive, citing support from both the City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta.

“In Alberta, I started by selling Segways to the RCMP in Sylvan Lake. The Alberta government issued an exemption permit for them for a year – something necessary to bring in a new type of vehicle to the province.”

He then extended his business to Edmonton. He says the city has been “amazing” – a partnership that started with sales of Segways to police, parking enforcement, and paramedics, and has extended to Segway tours and the delivery of other recreational activities in the river valley.

To assess the safety of Segways, the provincial government has surveyed both the RCMP and river valley customers. Szydlowski sees the Segway as an opportunity for government to flex its “green muscles”.

Rocking R Guest Ranch: Finding Many Paths to Approvals

By Rocking R Guest Ranch

On the road to Rocking R Guest Ranch you are greeted with gorgeous views of Eagle Lake and a backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Rocking R Guest will truly be “Your Little Piece of the Range."

Rocking R Guest Ranch is nestled behind a big tree and green bushes.

For nine years, Terri Kinsman and her husband have operated the Rocking R Guest Ranch in Strathmore, 50 kilometres east of Calgary. Offering a luxury bed and breakfast, spa services, equestrian activities and access to all local attractions, they have received high ratings on TripAdvisor, as well as the WestJet Value Award for the top hotel in Canada.

Kinsman tells of her experience about getting approvals and getting started:

  • “If you are starting or expanding a tourism business, more often than not you will save time and money if you hire a general contractor who has experience in obtaining the necessary approvals and permits. If you can do some of the work yourself, you will certainly save money but best to get a copy of the Alberta Building Codes, the Public Health Regulations and the Fire and Safety Codes”.
  • “In some cases you will need to consult Alberta Gaming and Liquor, local water management organizations, Fish and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited. You may also have to deal with the Ministries of Culture and Tourism, Transportation or Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, but your local county, town or city can point you in the right direction.”
  • “Travel Alberta is also a great resource, each area of the province has a dedicated business development manager, and they are very knowledgeable. They suggest fund marketing partnership opportunities and provide ongoing training by way of webinars, seminars and conventions. There is no membership fee and it is open to anyone.”
  • “If there is something that ignites your passion and you believe there is a market for it, get together with a few experts and toss out your ideas. If you need help with business plans or financing talk to the people in your local Community Futures office. They have tons of resources!”

Small and Medium Enterprises Profile: Tourism Industries in Canada

By Industry Canada

A study by Industry Canada shows the potential future growth for Tourism SMEs and possible obstacles to overcome towards that growth.

Tourism SMEs tend to be younger and larger businesses that are more growth oriented than other SMEs. Over 50 per cent of tourism SME’s experienced growth between 1 to 10 per cent during 2009-11. This is expected to grow to 64.2 per cent over the 2012-15 periods, as shown in the table below.

Tourism SMEs are also more likely to introduce product innovation than other SMEs and are more likely to benefit from increased sales and reduced costs as a result of their innovation, which also contributes to their increased growth potential.

Access to financing is one of the most critical factors affecting growth of SMEs. In many cases, SMEs experience difficulty obtaining the financing they need to acquire assets, pay day-to-day expenses or expand into new markets.

Credit providers view tourism SMEs as relatively risky compared with other SMEs. The impact is that tourism SMEs often find it more difficult to obtain debt financing for tourism investment than their counterparts in other industries. They are also less likely to use domestic chartered banks and more likely to use a government institution as their main provider of external financing. It is important to understand the various obstacles an entrepreneur will have to overcome when starting out in the tourism industry. The Tourism Division wishes to assist small businesses in Alberta with overcoming some of these obstacles and promote tourism development.

Contact the staff of the Tourism Business Development and Investment Attraction Unit today, and take advantage of the services and resources we offer as part of the Tourism Entrepreneurship Program.

Last reviewed/revised: February 2, 2016
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