The Burns Lake Chamber of Commerce hosted a day of presentations with representatives on hand from Community Futures Nadina, Work BC, the College of New Caledonia, the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation as well as the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, the RBC and CIBC banks.
The theme of the day was ‘Strong business builds strong communities’, and the focus was on the opportunities within the Lakes District to get training and guidance to step out as an entrepreneur or to look for retraining to move from one skill set to another. Ten people arrived for the morning seminars.
Jason Prince of Southside was in attendance. His idea is to develop a brand for the Carrier Nation artists and artisans that live in the area. “The Haisla and other Coastal First Nations have a strong brand associated with their art,” said Prince.
“Almost every house or family has someone who practices a traditional Carrier art,” he said. “But we have no group representation to put a stamp on our Carrier Nation art, something that says, this is who we are.
This fledgling idea has great merit, says Tony Mondia, Business and Loans Analyst for Community Futures Nadina. “What Jason [Prince] is talking about is a social enterprise,” he said. “The key here is to… come up with leadership roles and ideas.”
One of Prince’s biggest obstacles will be financing, coming up with the money to get his ideas off the ground and keep them going. But getting financing is the final step after developing a carefully considered business plan.
Mondia and Community Futures Nadina can help with the development of a business plan, but it’s the ‘incremental’, small steps coming first that matter most.
“The best thing for him to do is to continually talk with people in his community,” said Mondia. “He should be talking with people who are already successful. They have the infrastructure and the knowledge.” Mondia mentioned the success of Southside enterprises like the Chief Louie Paddle company. The success of local businesses has a lot to teach potential entrepreneurs.
“I wish there was greater involvement from business leaders out there to recognize and see these potential entrepreneurs or youth and recognize them and help bring their ideas into the fold [of the community],” said Mondia. “It will be profitable, not just with money, but with impact on the community.”