An emergency Response Coordinator and Business Ambassadors will be working from Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) offices in the new year to help businesses and non-profit organizations with wildfire recovery.
CFDC manager for the Cariboo Chilcotin, Karen Eden says they were overwhelmed with the applicants for the positions.
“They’re all terrific; the hard part was choosing. When we first put the posting up I was kind of nervous we wouldn’t get anyone responding. There are so many caring people out there. The ambassadors to date that’s the personality that they have.”
The emergency response coordinator and ambassadors will help businesses assess the impact of the wildfires on their operations, match their needs to available programs and services, assist with appropriate referrals and application processes, and collect information that can help communities better understand the wildfire impacts in order to support new program development.
“What we were finding and what we kind of guessed, but we didn’t guess how big of a problem is there were going businesses that struggled in finding the supports and resources that are being made available to them. So the primary purpose of the ambassadors is to do exactly that,” says Eden adding that at CFDC they had started thinking of how they were going to help affected businesses while they were evacuated, and put together a proposal which was shared with different funding agencies.
“One of the things that became apparent very early on is that there are a number of funding programs and services out there, but in many cases the businesses are so strapped just trying to recover, trying to get things back together they don’t necessarily have the capacity to apply for some of these services or opportunities that will help them to recover,” says Joel Mckay, chief executive officer with Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT)
“This was really designed to be that capacity. These business ambassadors are those folks who will be out on the ground working with the businesss that have been impacted and helping them to unlock resources that will bev valuable in recovery efforts that frankly, won’t take a few months. It will take a number of months and some of the impacts are just being felt right now.”
The positions are funded with $200,000 from Northern Development, $140,000 from the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition and $56,000 from Community Futures Development Corporation
Community Futures welcomed the new staff members who will be working from CFDC offices in Quesnel, Williams Lake, and Ashcroft starting January 2018 until October 31, 2018 earlier this month:
- Emergency Response Coordinator, Sue Lachance
- Ashcroft Business Ambassadors -Angela Bissat, Wendy Coomber, Andre Kuerbis
- Quesnel Business Ambassadors -Laurie Rice, Simon Turner
- Williams Lake Business Ambassadors –Deanne Hoversland, Alisha Piccolo