A delegation from Community Futures Wild Rose was in Ottawa this week in order to take part in the organization’s national event, but also the local organization was recognized at the conference out of over 200 similar organizations in the country.

The 2022 Community Futures National Event was held at the Westin in Ottawa from May 8 to 10th.

Established in 1985 by the federal government, Community Futures is a community-based, economic development initiative designed to help strengthen and diversify the economies of rural and remote communities. There are 267 Community Futures organizations in Canada, with a local chapter in the Strathmore region, Community Futures Wildrose.

Reeve Amber Link attended the conference, and spoke to Bow River riding MP Martin Shields about the event.

She explained that this was one of the first opportunities to attend an in-person conference in a few years due to the pandemic.

“We came to the federal conference this year and I was able to network with board chairs from all across Canada,” she said. About Community Futures she said, “Community Futures is a grass routs organization and our main mandate is economic development and community development.”

Link spoke of how Community Futures supports local business through loans. “We currently have just under $7 million out in loans to small and medium sized businesses in the wildrose region,” she said.

“We also facilitated right around $3 million of the rural recovery relief fund that was 127 loans in the wild rose region and those were to help sustain businesses and jobs through the pandemic and through the restrictions,” said Link.

She explained that the strength and innovation of Community Futures Wildrose was recognized by the Economic Developers of Alberta for an economic development renewal project they recently completed. They were recognized with a 2022 award of excellence for their Wildrose Agritourism Innovation Challenge.

“For our small office with only four staff to win that award, we're really, really proud of that,” she said.

Business is the backbone of our communities, she said.

Link continued,“While I think people most know us for the loans, we also help people with upskilling, coaching, and business plan development. We have a small team but they are incredible and they are there whether you are a small startup, whether you're looking to grow your business, whether you're looking to buy or sell a business, we can help with all of those things.”