Wildfire Business Transition Project News

BCWBTP News Release

November 13, 2019

Mission, BC: It's well known that July 2017 marked the start of one of the worst wildfire seasons in BC's history, destroying more than 1.2 million hectares of land and leading to the declaration of a province-wide state of emergency that lasted a record-breaking 10 weeks.  

A lesser known fact is that the 2017 wildfires had a devastating economic impact on communities in rural British Columbia and particularly small businesses in the Cariboo Chilcotin region. An impact that many communities continue to struggle with today.

For the past two years, Community Futures organizations in Williams Lake, Ashcroft, Quesnel and Kamloops have been helping businesses, stakeholders and First Nations communities recover from the overwhelming impacts of the wildfires through the BC Wildfire Business Transition Project (BCWBTP), a unique program that has provided critical support to more than 4,000 small businesses.

The BCWBTP, which is winding down in December, has provided a three-pronged approach to business recovery and continuity:

1. Outreach and assessment: Business ambassadors and outreach workers were deployed to help business owners assess the impact of the fires on their operations and identify which assistance programs would best meet their needs.

2. Access to financing and technical support: Each Community Futures organization has access to an existing loan fund and flexible financing terms to help impacted businesses, and can draw on its existing team of business advisors to provide support.

3. Training and coaching: Targeted training programs, including workshops, online courses, business coaching and customized, self-directed training.

The results of the program have been outstanding. The following infographic illustrates BCWBTP results from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019. A final report will be produced in early 2020.

wildfire stats

In addition, a series of four videos was produced to document the support that Community Futures provided to small businesses and Indigenous communities that were impacted by the 2017 wildfires: 

PART 1: Project overview: https://youtu.be/737d2SkgO4A

PART 2: Business Ambassadors and Outreach Workers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3I-ovOey_E

PART 3: Stories from the businesses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgIz0PBuIC4

PART 4: Focuses on Community Futures of the Central Interior First Nations and its work with Indigenous communities that were impacted by the 2017 wildfires: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCoOucfHcTw

Assistance through the BC Wildfire Business Transition Project was made possible thanks to $3.2 million in funding from several partners – Western Economic Diversification ($1.84 million), Northern Development Initiative Trust ($200,000) and the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition Committee ($140,00), with an additional $980,000 from Canadian Red Cross (on behalf of the Province of British Columbia) towards workshops and training. 

Community Futures is the only organization throughout rural BC with a mandate for small business and community economic development.  Established over 30 years ago, Community Futures offers expert business planning advise, support services, business financing and local self-employment services from 34 offices throughout BC to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals.  Working in partnership with other business lenders, various levels of government and related stakeholders, Community Futures helps to grow and diversify local rural economies.

For more information on the Wildfire Business Transition Project, please visit: https://www.communityfutures.ca/wildfire-business-transition-project-news 

Wildfire Business Transition Project

wildfire disaster recovery cycle

The Wildfire Business Transition Project provides support for rural small businesses, Indigenous communities and not for profit organizations that were impacted by the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in British Columbia, the worst in the province’s history.

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Community Futures British Columbia
33163 2nd Ave
Mission, BC  V2V 6T8

About Community Futures

logo whiteFor over 30 years, we’ve been fostering entrepreneurship in rural BC. We offer small business loans, business counseling and specialized services to help you start or grow a business, and to help communities become more resilient and dynamic. Learn More

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