Entrepreneur Challenge an opportunity for mentoring and skills building

Entrepreneurs in Central Alberta — established or aspiring — have a chance to learn new business skills and potentially win $10,000. Community Futures East Parkland is joining seven other Community Futures organizations in Alberta in offering the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge.

Entrepreneurs in Central Alberta — established or aspiring — have a chance to learn new business skills and potentially win $10,000.

Community Futures East Parkland is joining seven other Community Futures organizations in Alberta in offering the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge.

Now in its eighth year, but the first for Community Futures East Parkland, the business planning competition gives participants access to free training and mentoring. They can also submit their business plan for a shot at various prizes, including $10,000 and $2,500 in cash, business coaching, marketing packages and office equipment.

“We find there are a lot of individuals and organizations that do wish to go forward,” said Jeff Hangar, economic development officer with Community Futures East Parkland. “This program gives them instructions with which they can do that.”

A series of eight training sessions on business planning will be delivered online on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9 p.m., beginning today and continuing until March 28. Recordings of the sessions will be available thereafter.

Registrations for the program will be accepted until April 30, with that date also the deadline for submitting business plans for judging. Prizes will be presented on June 14.

“The cash prizes have all been donated by ATB Financial,” said Hangar, adding that the objective is to find existing and prospective businesses and help then become established and grow.

“We’d like entrepreneurs and people with small and growing businesses to work with us to develop their business plan.”

Having a good business plan increases the likelihood of success, said Hangar, and is usually a prerequisite for bank financing. In some instances, Community Futures will provide capital as a lender of last resort.

The Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge is open to residents of the eight participating Community Futures. East Parkland covers rural areas of Central Alberta north of Red Deer and south of Camrose.

For additional information or to register, go online to www.chinookchallenge.com or call 403-320-6044.

Community Futures are non-profit, federally funded organizations that provide business training and in some cases loans to individuals interested in self-employment or expanding existing businesses. They also promote community-based economic development strategies.