VERNON,BC–From lost farmgate sales to lost harvest workers, agricultural businesses in the North Okanagan have had a tough year because of COVID-19. Now, a new business accelerator program aims to help the region’s agricultural entrepreneurs get the tools and support they need to pivot operations, scale up and succeed.
“We recognized a need to bring the agricultural business community greater support in identifying opportunities that will help them stay strong and resilient,” says Kazia Mullin, Business Services Manager, Community Futures North Okanagan.
Over the course of 22 weeks, participants in the REACH Agricultural Pilot Program will move through five phases of business development to uncover gaps and opportunities, create an action plan to develop the business, and implement key steps. Along the way, REACH members will participate in workshops and be supported by peers as well as program facilitator Andrea Gunner, a leading agrologist and agricultural consultant who also runs a pastured poultry operation in the North Okanagan.
“Andrea really understands the unique challenges faced by producers in our area because she’s been there herself and she will be a terrific asset as a coach,” says Mullin.
REACH is a no-cost program that will kick off in late October and run through March 2021 with virtual workshops, access to professional services and one-on-one coaching.
I think it will be a great benefit for them to hear about the common challenges they’re all facing so they know they’re not alone, and to hear some other perspectives and ideas.Andrea Gunner, REACH program facilitator
“It can be hard when you are so busy on your farm to take time to look at the big picture and how you can actually find some silver linings in all this,” says Gunner. “Producers are also out on their own, so I think it will be a great benefit for them to hear about the common challenges they’re all facing so they know they’re not alone, and to hear some other perspectives and ideas.”
Acceptance for applications to the REACH Agricultural Pilot Program is now closed
ABOUT COMMUNITY FUTURES NORTH OKANAGAN
Community Futures North Okanagan is a not-for-profit organization that supports economic development projects and helps our business community, job-seekers, and employers succeed. As a community-based organization with roots in Vernon dating back to 1984, Community Futures acts as a leader to create opportunities for growth and success across the North Okanagan. A team of nearly 45 staff provides workshops, programs, and services for three departments: Business Services, Employment Services, and Economic Development. Visit www.futuresbc.com to learn more.
The REACH program is supported by Western Economic Diversification, Accelerate Okanagan and the Regional District of the North Okanagan.