Starting a business can be a confusing endeavor for fledgling entrepreneurs.
In Rocky Mountain House, there will soon be a place they can go for help.
The provincial government announced on Tuesday that Rocky is one of eight Alberta communities slated to receive a Rural Alberta Business Centre. There, visitors will have access to business information and advice, research services and seminars and workshops.
The Rural Alberta Business Centre project is $2-million, three-year pilot program funded by Alberta Treasury Board and Enterprise, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, and Alberta Human Resources. The centres will each be managed by an organization in their community, with the Town of Rocky Mountain House serving this role in Rocky.
Dean Schweder, Rocky’s tourism and economic development co-ordinator, said the centre will be based in the town office. The town is currently in the process of hiring a business adviser to run the centre, which Schweder hopes will be operational by the end of January.
He thinks the support that the centre and its adviser provides to business people will be invaluable to the local economy.
“Eighty per cent of the businesses that start up are from within, rather than from the outside.”
He said many people already dabbling in business ventures, often out of their homes, will be more likely to expand if information and support are available.
“We’re hoping that those home-based businesses want to take that next step and go into a storefront.”
Schweder added that the Rural Alberta Business Centre will not only serve new businesses.
“We’re going to be offering workshops as well for existing businesses.”
In addition to books and other materials, the centre will provide access to computers and the Internet. It will also be a place where visitors can connect to The Business Link, a provincial research centre with more than 5,000 publications related to business.
In the past, Schweder tried to help entrepreneurs who came into the town office with questions about starting a business.
“We weren’t going to turn anyone away if they walked in here looking for information,” he said.
The Rural Alberta Business Centre can now fill this role, although Schweder still plans to help out whenever required.
Although the pilot project is scheduled to run for a finite period, he’s optimistic the local centre will continue to operate.
The other communities to receive funding for Rural Alberta Business Centres are Camrose, Cold Lake, Fort Macleod, Hanna, Grande Cache, Slave Lake and La Crete.