For more than 25 years, the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) of Chatham-Kent has been building the local economy one business at a time.
Carol Emery, CFDC executive director, said the organization has lent $15 million to more than 300 businesses and has created more than 2,000 jobs.
The corporation offers a loan program for new business owners as well as those who qualify under the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program.
“We offer a one-stop information service where people can find out what they need to know about what it takes to start a business” Emery said. “They have the idea but they often don’t know the ins and outs of what it takes to make that idea come to life.”
CFDC support doesn’t end with funding, she said.
“We’re there right through the process of bringing the idea forward, presentation of a business plan, execution of the plan and growth of the business” she said. “We offer continuing mentoring so that when start ups encounter problems, we’re there to steer them through.”
Community Futures’ partnerships range from small single-employee enterprises to huge concerns such as Commercial Alcohols, which was aided by CFDC during its formative years.
Emery said the CFDC staff of Tanya Houston, Monica Bacic, Peter Maguire and Diane Caughy makes the office run smoothly.
“Every one of us is fully committed to what we do,” she said. “We receive a tremendous amount of satisfaction watching someone come in with a dream and helping them turn it into reality.
All loan submissions go through a local volunteer board of directors led by chair Patricia Marchand. The board tests the business model to give it the best chance of success.
“Our board is our other strength,” Emery said. “We have a number of people who have been longtime volunteers and we have a group which has a tremendous amount of experience in a wide variety of fields.”
To mark its 25th anniversary, the group produced a video which can be seen on its website at cfdcck.on.ca.