Lake Country is Open for Business

lake country

Lake Country, BC – Lake Country recognized as one of the most Open for Business Communities in BC

Lake Country has been recognized as one of the most Open for Business communities in British Columbia. During the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Conference in Victoria, Mayor James Baker received the prestigious Open for Business Award from Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Coralee Oakes.

“Being a recipient of an Open for Business Award is an honour,” said Jamie McEwan, Community Development Manager for the District.

“This recognition highlights the leadership of Council and staff in creating a streamlined, business-friendly and open local government. We are working as a team with entrepreneurs and businesses to build a fun and thriving community.”

Lake Country has highlighted a number of initiatives in becoming Open for Business, including:

  • Streamlining and continuously seeking measureable improvements to its development and business licensing procedures;
  • Business retention and expansion efforts, including business walks site visits to local businesses;
  • Collaboration with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission on initiatives such as the annual regional business walks, the Okanagan Young Professionals, and efforts in business attraction; and
  • Other innovative approaches to local economic development, such as initiatives in fibre optics, free public WiFi, industrial development planning, and the recently-approved Tourism Strategy

“We are always working to make Lake Country more business-friendly and efficient,” said Mayor James Baker, receiving the Award. “This reinforces the positive changes that have been made to our operations, and encourages us to keep moving forward.”

Lake Country is among four other recipients of this year’s Open for Business Awards: the Village of Telkwa, the City of Victoria, the Corporation of Delta, and the Nisga’a Lisims Government.


For more information contact:
Jamie McEwan, Community Development Manager
District of Lake Country
Tel: 250-766-5650
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Art of Innovation


Community Futures has achieved a major milestone, celebrating 30 years of service to entrepreneurs and communities across BC. As part of our 30 year celebration, we are publishing The Future of Entrepreneurship Series. Written by business leaders, this series of forward thinking articles will provide insights and opinions in regards to a number of key challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs in the future.

The Art of Innovation
By: Jeff Dawson

Buzz words and their assorted hyperbole have become increasingly prevalent across the landscape - and no where are they more common than in the world of small business. Every expert, guru and self-proclaimed pontificator is continually weighing in on the latest business trends, habits, and phraseology.

If ‘innovation’ wasn’t continually mentioned the last time you read your favourite business book, then chances are that book was handed down to you by your great-grandparents.

The word ‘innovation’ itself is one of those words that if you canvassed ten random business people about what it actually meant, you’d likely hear at least fifteen different definitions. Thankfully smart business people often spend much less time defining the word for their peers than they do demonstrating it to their clients, customers and co-workers.

Just an hour north of Vancouver, off the scenic Sea to Sky highway, Dave Fenn, his sister Leslie and nearly 200 driven employees run the Howe Sound Brewery. It’s a highly successful craft beer business that is now in its twentieth year of operations. The Fenn’s know an awful lot about innovation but they are careful to acknowledge that being innovative doesn’t mean you have to be an M.I.T. graduate either. ‘Innovation is important because it sets you apart’, revealed Dave. ‘But it doesn't have to be a whole new product based on the latest technology. It can be returning a customer's phone call the same day in an industry that ignores customers. Or delivering your product on a weekend, when typically it would only be delivered mid-week. Innovation of your products or your services is the key.’

Dave Fenn’s uncanny observations about innovation are no surprise to Lori Schmidt. As the CEO of Edmonton-based Go Productivity she is one of the nation’s brightest minds in the field of productivity. She has easily forgotten more about productivity and innovation than the rest of us have ever retained; Schmidt knows her stuff. As a much sought-after expert for energized and entrepreneurial

Canadians wanting to take their companies to the next level, she can appreciate what Dave Fenn is saying. ‘We know that when many people hear the word innovation they immediately think of technology innovations but that is only one kind of innovation’, she says. ‘Innovation goes well beyond new product development or new technology to the adoption of technologies and innovative practices.’

Young and energetic, even on her worst day, 30 year old Jessica Laberge has been running Pacific Paramedics in Prince Rupert for three years now. For her, innovation meant getting ahead of the line before the line really even existed. She saw a growing need for important safety services for the mining sector, LNG and other sectors where growth was seemingly right around the corner. She wanted to get ready to service that growth before it was apparent to any of her competitors. Her company now is ideally set up to handle much of the expected increase in job sites all around her Prince Rupert home base. Jessica has essentially defined innovation by her astute pre-emptive actions: ‘being innovative for us was all about discovering what opportunities exist now or are likely to emerge in the future. Successful businesses not only respond to the current customer but also anticipate future trends and then develop an idea or service that allows them to meet that future demand rapidly and effectively.’

Regardless of how we each personally define innovation, it is abundantly clear that an innovative business has a much better chance to be a successful business in today’s fast-paced economic landscape. Sitting idle at work, oblivious to change and ignorant of new opportunities, while the rest of the business planet runs circles around you, is a sure fire way to ensure you’re eating cat food for dinner six nights a week, before you know it.

However, it is also very important to remember that innovation alone cannot provide any business professional with a 100% guarantee that they will flourish. The women running Vernon’s very successful Room Collection have some sage advice on this compelling observation: ‘You could have the most innovative business in the world but if you don’t build and maintain satisfying relationships with your clients, you’re going to be in deep trouble’ warns co-owner Alison Ludditt. Business partner and best friend, Karen Miller, couldn’t agree more: ‘Few things matter more in business than how customers feel after an interaction - real or virtual - with you.’

Go Productivity CEO Lori Schmidt didn’t get to the top of the mountain by being a one trick pony. While she preaches innovation at every opportunity, she is also wise enough to acknowledge that to ultimately succeed in business today, no one thing will get you there: ‘A successful business in today’s economy is more than technological invention’, says Schmidt, ‘it takes exceptional insight into emerging technologies and innovations with an ability to quickly validate and adjust business strategy; leverage that into existing and new products; and then into the market –and do it all at the speed of light.’

Accomplishing all of this on a daily basis isn’t easy but today’s best entrepreneurs know that if they can’t do it, somebody else will---and it’s that motivation that drives them in today’s competitive and innovative economy.

Community Futures is a non-profit community business financing organization created to support small and medium sized enterprises throughout rural BC, paving the way for diversified local economies and job creation.

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Reality of Risk

Community Futures has achieved a major milestone, celebrating 30 years of service to entrepreneurs and communities across BC. As part of our 30 year celebration, we are publishing The Future of Entrepreneurship Series. Written by business leaders, this series of forward thinking articles will provide insights and opinions in regards to a number of key challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs in the future.

Reality of Risk

Dr. David E Bond

Humans can be certain that every day we are alive we are growing older – but we can be certain of little else. Every day we all face uncertainties or risks that affect our communities and businesses, some of which we can limit or neutralize and others which are beyond our individual or collective control. For example, we cannot prevent adverse weather events - wind, rain or snow, earthquakes or even, in some places, volcanic eruptions – though we can make plans to deal with them if they arise. 

Every business, be it a start-up or long-established, faces business risks and most of these can be mitigated if not avoided. Therefore, recognizing risks and their potential impact and determining what, if anything, can be done cost-effectively to reduce negative impacts is one of the most important tasks faced by businesses.

First, consider your business’ key resources. Your finance and accounting records, computer data, inventory, labour force and customer base are all key components. That means the business needs insurance against theft, fire, cyber security, perhaps earthquakes and floods, and certainly business interruption which would provide help after a disaster causing the business to shut down temporarily as seen in Fort McMurray. And, depending on the nature of the firm, key person insurance may be necessary. This insurance provides investors some confidence that either they will recoup their investment or have financial resources sufficient to find a replacement or potential purchaser if the founder or key manager is no longer able to work. These basic actions are really essential.

The records of the company are normally kept in electronic files. First, make sure you have continuous back-up that is stored in at least two, and preferably three, distinctly separate places. Second, and this is just as important, make sure your operations are protected against viruses and hackers. There are any number of providers of the needed services, so take the time to examine your present needs as well as your foreseeable requirements and get knowledgeable advice from trusted and respected providers.

All businesses operate in a changing environment. You need to think seriously about the types and frequency of internal and external reports you will require to understand what is happening to your sales, costs of operation, growth, personnel, and, if possible, what the competition is doing. Those reports will, in turn, provide you with indications of what might lie ahead and alert you to any adjustments you should consider. More importantly, they should make you aware of any vulnerabilities and opportunities. Vulnerabilities require your prompt attention and opportunities may lead to growth -which brings its own financial risks.

To reduce operating risks as much as possible, consider assembling a Board of Advisors of experienced people you trust and respect. Two or more knowledgeable individuals who will provide frank and honest observations and opinions as to how things are going and what, if any, corrective action you might wish to take can be invaluable. This is a vital and often overlooked source of advice to those running any enterprise. They may be interested friends, or have some skin in the game themselves, or be paid professionals, but they should have substantial experience in business.  They should also be willing to make their views known and not always expect you to agree with them. They should know that you will accord their views respect and thoughtful consideration.

Finally, no matter what your enterprise does, it’s highly unlikely you will be doing it alone. The people on your team constitute one of your most important resources and you want to avoid high turnover. Keeping good employees can be the difference between success and failure. My late friend Leonard Lee, the founder of Lee Valley Tools, understood this. He had two cardinal policies regarding his staff. First, every employee, himself included, shared an equal cut of 25% of pre-tax profits as an annual bonus. Second, no employee earned more than 10 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker. As he said, “Empowered and properly compensated employees work hard to make customers happy, and happy customers return often and encourage others to try Lee Valley.”  Leonard was also quick to recognize risks and opportunities. What began as a mail-order operation became vulnerable to postal strikes as it grew and to offset that he started to open retail operations across the nation. Mail-order is still important for sales outside Canada but retail is now a major pillar of the company.

There are risks over which you have little control but they can play an important role in the success of your enterprise. Financial risk is a fact of daily life, but making sure you have a good relationship with your lender or financial institution will stand you in good stead as your business grows. Such a relationship won’t prevent interest rates from going up, but you will be in a better position to ask for assistance if needed. Your lead financial institution can and should provide you with economic forecasts that will allow you to plan better.

There are other risks such as actions taken by governments, local, provincial or national, that include not only levels of taxation but also legislation and regulations regarding social policies from healthcare to labour laws and information requests. Some of these can have enormous impact on your business’ bottom line. Claiming ignorance of the rules is usually not either an effective or a successful defence if you are caught offside. Also, from time to time, these rules change. You will need early warning and perhaps some advice on actions to consider. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good source of information as are provincial or national trade associations. Your lawyer and accountant should also be consulted from time to time, not only at start-up and year-end but throughout the year, as warranted. 

Thinking about and preparing to manage risks is not always front and centre when an entrepreneur considers a new venture but it should form an essential part of any business plan. Your business plan should not be a promotional document full of hype and unrealistic sales forecasts. It needs to be a well-reasoned and conservative document showing that you have considered the potential risks and know how to deal with them. Potential risks should not automatically be regarded as reasons not to pursue a project you are excited about. But recognizing them and dealing with them, in a deliberate and cost-conscious manner, is a key to success for any enterprise.

Watch for our next article by Jeff Dawson - The Art of Innovation.  

Community Futures is a non-profit community business financing organization created to support small and medium sized enterprises throughout rural BC, paving the way for diversified local economies and job creation.

Learn more (

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Community Futures Funds Rapid Mobile Micro-Learning Software Company

Kelowna, BC – 4th August 2016

Mathtoons Media Inc. (“Mathtoons” or “Company”) is pleased to announce funding from Kelowna based community funding company Community Futures for the “continued growth and expansion” of Mathtoons Rapid Mobile Micro-Learning software platform called Practi.

Practi provides a 360-degree, rapid learning solution that can be accessed from any mobile device anywhere, including within a non wi-fi/ flight-mode environment, converting existing traditional training material into rapid learning format with full analytics of ‘expert’ learning.

Community Futures Development Corporation is pleased to support Mathtoons with the expansion of Practi. In its early stages, Practi has already generated significant interest globally, including from large Canadian and US companies in areas such as airlines, utilities, health care organisations, Fortune100 companies, municipalities, and entertainment and media organisations seeking to transition to mobile learning for their rapidly changing workforces.

Kristin Garn, CEO, founded Mathtoons Media in 2011, designing and building software which enabled the rapid learning and retention of math knowledge for higher education. In 2015, Kristin identified a niche market within the ever expanding Mobile Micro-Learning corporate sector (currently a $10Billion industry, with a forecast of a 36.3% growth per year up to 2020) and has built a team of highly motivated and specialised professionals based in Kelowna and across Canada.

Kristin Garn is known as a true entrepreneur and has been recognised by the Canadian Trade Commission as a top female tech CEO and a “Woman to Watch” by the local Chamber of Commerce.

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Car-sharing co-op adds minivan to fleet

Minivan for OGO Car Share Co-op

Standing next to OGO Car Share Co-op’s new minivan are, from left, co-op executive director Christian Brandt, Interior Savings Credit Union CEO Kathy Conway, Cheryl Miller of the Central Okanagan Foundation and Francis Langevin of the Okanagan Refugee Coalition.

Posted from Kelowna Daily Courier: Thursday, July 14, 2016 8:41 pm | Updated: 8:43 pm, Thu Jul 14, 2016.

With the addition of a minivan, OGO Car Share Co-op has virtually every type of vehicle on the streets.

“We wanted to have a vehicle larger families or groups could access to do errands or get places,” said OGO executive director Christian Brandt.

The new eight-passenger Kia minivan takes OGO’s vehicle count to 11, including a pickup truck, an electric car, three hybrids and five regular cars.

The minivan will be regularly stationed in the parking lot behind Interior Savings Credit Union’s main branch at the corner of Richter Street and Bernard Avenue.

The downtown location is not only convenient and central for co-op users, but is also a nod to the credit union’s support of OGO through the Interior Savings Credit Union Community Investment Fund.

“Interior Savings and OGO are co-operatives, owned by the people who live in this community,” said credit union CEO Kathy Conway.

“Affordable transportation can be a very real challenge for large families, and we hope this new addition will help with their transportation needs.”

The credit union worked with the Central Okanagan Foundation to buy the minivan at the local Kia dealership at a discount.

The minivan purchase was first considered after the car-share co-op asked the Okanagan Refugee Coalition what kind of vehicles it might need for the people it represents. The group is involved in helping Syrian refugee families transition to life in Kelowna.

“Syrian families tend to be bigger, so they need a minivan to get around,” said Brandt.

“The coalition has used co-op vehicles to drive Syrians around and we expect to have Syrian families as members.”

The credit union and foundation grants for OGO also allowed it to buy two child seats and two booster seats for use in any co-op vehicle.

Four of OGO’s vehicles are based in the City Hall parking lot and one each on Queensway Avenue, in South Pandosy, at Kelowna General Hospital, at the Landmark, at Parkinson Recreation Centre and at UBC Okanagan.

Co-op members can access the vehicles two ways.

A casual membership costs $25 a month. Whenever the driver uses a vehicle, he or she pays $2 or $4 an hour plus 40 cents per kilometre driven.

The co-op membership is $500, which is refunded when you leave OGO. The same hourly and per-kilometre charges apply.

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