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Providing Entrepreneurs the Support They Need to Succeed

Community Futures Northwest Alberta

Buffalo Head Prairie, Chateh, Fort Vermilion, Fox Lake, Garden River, High Level, John D’or Prairie, La Crete, Meander River, Paddle Prairie, Rainbow Lake, Steen River & Zama City




Embodying the spirit of economic diversity and growth, Community Futures Northwest Alberta is on a mission to nurture a prosperous future for the region by offering a wide range of services tailored to support small businesses and entrepreneurs.


“As a REDI board member, I’ve witnessed the valuable work Community Futures does for our region,” said Boyd Langford, REDI Board Member and Town of High Level Councillor. “They have been instrumental in supporting many businesses with loans and other resources, especially during challenging times. Their contribution to our local economy is significant and deserves recognition.”


Community Futures Northwest Alberta (CFNWA) services are designed to empower residents to start, grow, expand, franchise or sell their businesses. Regardless of the industry—whether it’s First Nations start-ups, oil & gas, retail or heavy equipment—CFNWA stands ready to support the region’s economic diversification.


“We understand that any new business will positively impact the region, which is why we’re always ready to help,” said Mike Osborn, CFNWA General Manager.


Led by a dedicated team of seasoned professionals and supported by a volunteer Board of Directors, CFNWA goes beyond conventional business lending.


“Our services include training, guidance and financial support to those who have been turned down by traditional banks,” said Osborn. “We also have a history of helping social enterprises and non-profits.”


CFNWA’s Board of Directors provides invaluable guidance and support to rural entrepreneurs. Together, the board aims to understand the challenges small business owners face and assist in their success.


“We recruit our Board of Directors based on industry sector and geographical representation,” said Osborn. “Our board is made up of representatives from each municipality and includes two Indigenous members.”


Spanning over a vast area—which includes Rainbow Lake, Zama City, High Level, Paddle Prairie, Fort Vermilion, La Crete, Steen River, Chateh, Meander River, Buffalo Head Prairie, Garden River, John D’or Prairie and Fox Lake—CFNWA has become deeply ingrained in the fabric of these communities.


“Our goal is to create and facilitate more rural economic diversification in our area,” said Osborn. “By working alongside community leaders and stakeholders, we can help implement projects that will add value and expand into new sectors.”


From 2022-2023, CFNWA supported 18 new and ongoing community-based projects, provided 251 business advisory services, hosted just under 100 participants for business training sessions and gave $417,000 in loans.


“It’s important to learn from, and work closely with, our business communities, so we can provide guidance for business retention and create succession planning strategies,” said Osborn.


CFNWA works closely with local Chambers of Commerce, Mackenzie County, Town of High Level, Rainbow Lake, Zama City, Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) for Northwest Alberta, Fort Vermilion and Area Board of Trade, Mackenzie Frontier Tourist Association and more.


“Community Futures has been an essential partner of REDI since its creation in 2002. They have continuously supported our regional economic development by providing valuable services and funding to entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Langford. “Their knowledge of the challenges and possibilities of our diverse communities is unmatched, and I truly appreciate their unwavering dedication to our region.”


From 2015 to 2019 CFNWA—along with Community Futures Peace Country and Community Futures Grande Prairie and Region—was responsible for over 50% of small business loans for all 27 Community Futures locations in Alberta.


“Most of our clients are referrals from banks or previous clients,” said Osborn. “If a client believes in their idea and they’re willing to work toward it, then we will support them in any way we can.”


Natural disasters and COVID have taken a toll on businesses throughout the province since 2020, especially in the Northwest, and CFNWA is ready to assist entrepreneurs in getting back on their feet and bringing their ideas to life.


“Between fires, floods and the pandemic, it’s been hard on businesses for the past four years, but we’re starting to see more positivity in our area and surrounding communities,” said Osborn. “People are looking for ideas and new opportunities, and we encourage them to use our resources. Ask us how we can help.”


Facilitating new initiatives is known to boost economic growth, and CFNWA is eager to see new projects being launched that will have a direct, positive impact on their clients and communities.


“We are very excited for our Small Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Project. It’s being developed with the help of 10 other Community Futures in Alberta,” said Osborn. “Plus, our upcoming Community Futures Online Learning System Project will create more training opportunities for clients.”


When asked what the long-term impact of CFNWA’s work on the region’s economy and community development would look like, Osborn had a straightforward and encouraging message.


“Our goal is to continue to support and identify opportunities for our community members, entrepreneurs and small business owners as best we can,” said Osborn. “We want to see our industries grow and thrive, and we will do what we can to make that a reality.”


Learn more about Community Futures Northwest Alberta at cfnwa.ab.ca


 

What is REDI?

The Regional Economic Development Initiative Association for Northwest Alberta (REDI) formed in 2002. It exists to promote and enhance economic growth amongst its member communities and to promote the region as a whole, rather than as individual communities.


REDI is geographically located in the far northwest portion of Alberta and is located within Mackenzie County and the Métis settlement of Paddle Prairie.


The region is home to a number of progressive and established resource industries such as agriculture, forestry and oil and gas. This vibrancy has enabled sustained economic diversification. Cenovus Energy, Richardson Pioneer, West Fraser and Tolko Industries have all made major investments in the REDI Region.


Like the northern lights that dance overhead, the REDI region is vibrant and alive. The region is filled with unique commercial, residential and industrial investment opportunities. This, together with a high regard for family and lifestyle, make the region an amazing place to work and live.


Over 25,000 residents live in the REDI Region. The main source of revenue for REDI comes from annual municipal membership fees and government partner funding. REDI is registered as a society under The Societies Act of Alberta.

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