‘REACH’ program aims at growing small business

Local resource comes from JEDI, provincial government

The Joint Economic Development Initiative is promoting a program to help new businesses get off the ground.

JEDI’s “REACH program” or the Rural Enterprise Assistance and Coaching hostel, is, as its motto states, “Not about starting a business, it’s about succeeding in business.”

Joan Miller, director of JEDI, and Rodger Cole, an expert on rural economic development, discussed the program May 11, which accepts Town of Millet and County of Wetaskiwin clients.

Cole, who worked for the provincial government’s regional development department for over 25 years and eight years at Business Link, assisted in developing this program. He said in an interview at the JEDI offices located at the County of Wetaskiwin building that rural business sometimes have trouble accessing programs to assist them when compared to their urban counterparts.

REACH is one way to address that issue. Cole also pointed out the success rate for small business in rural areas isn’t that great; he noted that in some areas, about 76 per cent of small business shuts down within five years.

The REACH program, which will be offering introductory, free-of-charge workshops soon, can help prospective business owners who are thinking about things like how successful a business idea could be, what does a new business owner need to know, is a business plan needed, how and why should a market be expanded and where can I access start-up capital?

Cole noted financial institutions like programs like REACH because it shows the client is engaging in research and preparedness.

He stated the one thing required by the program is a commitment to attending and participating. He said the most important factors in the program is that the business idea a person has is right for them and that it has the potential to succeed. If those two pieces are in place, there’s a good chance of success.

The program is also suitable for existing businesses who are thinking of expanding into new areas.

REACH is co-funded by the provincial government and JEDI, which is a cooperative effort between the County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet with the goal of attracting industrial business to the area.

However, Cole pointed out the REACH program is not necessarily limited only to those interested in starting an industrial business.

Miller noted attending the introductory sessions can be a huge boost for a local small businessperson, as it’s completely free of charge.

The two introductory sessions are planned for May 23 in Falun (6 p.m., Falun Community Centre) and May 24 in Millet (6 p.m. Millet Agriplex).

Both Miller and Cole appeared at Millet town council’s regular meeting May 9 to present the program. Cole told councilors it’s nice to have some help when starting out because being a small business owner can be a lonely place.

More information about REACH is available by calling or texting 780-994-7459 or by email at reach.program.alberta@gmail.com.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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