Community Futures develops business tool

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The Community Futures Development Corporation of Chatham-Kent held its annual meeting last week. The federally funded organization has loaned nearly $700,000 and helped attract and retain more than 150 jobs. Here, outgoing chair Pat Weaver, Executive Director Carol Emery and incoming chair Shawn Bustin are seen after the meeting.
The Community Futures Development Corporation of Chatham-Kent held its annual meeting last week. The federally funded organization has loaned nearly $700,000 and helped attract and retain more than 150 jobs. Here, outgoing chair Pat Weaver, Executive Director Carol Emery and incoming chair Shawn Bustin are seen after the meeting.

Almost three years in the making, the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) of Chatham-Kent has developed a small business toolkit designed to answer many of the questions facing budding entrepreneurs.

The electronic, decision-based guide was unveiled at the CFDC annual meeting and is the work of staff members Monica Bacic and Tanya Houston.

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Houston, who has been supervisor of the CFDC’s local Ontario Self-Employment Benefit program for several years, said many of the same questions keep popping up during interviews with those considering starting a business.

“We realized that if we could develop something to guide people along we could smooth the process and help them make better decisions,” she said.

Bacic said the idea of the guide is to give you “what you need, when you need it.”

“There are three main areas – the idea, the numbers and what it takes to make it work,” she said. “We have 18 different tabs on the Excel sheet.”

Houston said the process begins with a prospective business owner performing a self-assessment to determine if they are prepared to operate their own business.

“Not everybody is comfortable with being the one to make all the decisions and carry the responsibility,” she said. “It’s better to find out at the beginning than later on.”

The tabs encompass what it takes to start a business, from market research, competition, demand for the service or product and carries through to the practical aspects such as payroll and complying with government regulations.

“When people ask me what it takes to start a business I ask them if they have time for an eight-hour answer,” she said. “It’s quite involved but there is a tremendous sense of satisfaction once you see things coming together.”

Outgoing CFDC chairman Pat Weaver said he is pleased with the organization’s results during the last 18 months.

The group loaned $695,000 to 11 businesses during that time, creating and securing 85 jobs. It also provided business assistance to 31 firms with an estimated job growth of 75 positions.

Shawn Bustin, an executive with Mainstreet Credit Union, will serve as chairman for the coming year.

During the meeting, the CFDC provided grants to three community groups through its Special Project Funding Competition.

The Wallaceburg and District Arts Council finished first in the online voting for the honour, earning $2,500. The Canadian Mental Health Association was awarded $1,500 and the Blenheim Youth Centre was given $1,000.

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