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Municipality encouraging small local businesses to use new centre

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Municipality encouraging small local businesses to use new centre

Mayor Melissa Blake along with Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Deron Bilous encouraging businesses to use Back to Business Resource Centre // Jaryn Vecchio - Harvard Broadcasting

Local businesses have and will be seeing pink.

10 residents who were here before the fire and came back are putting on special pink shirts as part of the Welcome Walk Group.

“We wanted to establish a group that would start going out into the community, start meeting with businesses, meet with them one on one,” said Leigh Ann Smith, Information Officer with the Economic Development.

She is part of the 10 who have been traveling by foot to meet local businesses who have had a tough time since re-entry. There they are meeting face to face with the owners and greeting them back to the community trying to put a smile on everyone’s face.

Since late June, they have personally traveled and met with 500 businesses but are trying new ways to meet with more.

“We’re looking at finding ways to bring home based businesses to us because we can’t go door to door in the community,” said Smith. “But if we can find a way to bring them to us we’re also looking at ways to do interactive networking events for them as well.

The group is part of the Back to Business Resource Centre which was created for the sole purpose of helping local businesses after the fire. Since its opening, 155 businesses have come in looking for advice while 14 have used the office space that’s being provided.

Mayor Melissa Blake along with the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Deron Bilous were on hand to encourage more businesses to use the facility. Here businesses can get information about recovery contracts, receive support, get one on one talks with business specialists and take advantage of many resources such as the internet and phone services.

“This is a support centre, so more to do with mentor ship, having access to experts whether it be accounts or business managers, ensuring businesses that this exists.”┬ásaid Bilous.

These specialists and experts will be locals of the Region of Wood Buffalo.

“We wanted to ensure that the folks here in Fort McMurray who are on the ground, who live in the community, work in the community, know the community are the ones delivering the programs.”

He did mention that more supports will be coming from the Province but for the time being the Centre is available for the foreseeable future.

Leigh Ann and the rest of the Welcome Walk Group Pink shirts will still be travelling around the city answering questions and helping out.

“There are a lot of organizations wearing red shirts, green shirts to help in the community, we thought pink was really bright, it stands out and it sure does put smiles on peoples faces when we walk in.”

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