Local businesses and organizations now have a new promotional tool available thanks to a project by Community Futures (CF) White Horse Plains.
CF White Horse Plains covers the RMs of Cartier, St. Francois Xavier, Headingley and Portage la Prairie. The non-profit organization offers business advice, training and loans to new and experienced entrepreneurs.
Business development officer Elaine Palson discussed the findings of an economic stimulus project at a business mixer in Headingley on May 2.
After holding 85 meetings to consult with businesses, community residents and groups, the Community Futures staff identified four recommendations, the first of which is the need for businesses to participate in networking events.
Palson said, at a business mixer held in Elie last fall, she had participants tell her they weren’t aware of all the businesses operating within their area, especially since many are home-based.
"The community and the businesses really wanted to connect," she said.
To satisfy this desire, CF staff will organize three mixers in the coming year, said Palson.
The other three recommendations are creating a regional business directory, event calendar and improving communications. The answer to these is the Community Futures’ new The River Connection, an online tool to promote and connect the region and its residents.
The River Connection was launched at the business mixer, but the names and contact information for 263 businesses, 23 community groups, and 13 Hutterite colonies were already listed in the regional business directory.
"Each municipality is unique with a different section," said Palson. "For example, you’ll be able to see what businesses are located in St. Francois Xavier."
She added, for a small cost recovery fee, the businesses can expand their directory information to include a business description, address, website and additional contact information.
Total Storage owner Shawn Hiebert attended the mixer and said he’s excited about creating new relationships with other businesses in his community.
"The River Connection website will be a fantastic tool to do so," he added.
Community groups have free access to post their events on The River Connection. As well, there’s a discussion section that Palson hopes will generate some online conversation.
"We hope that the communities embrace it and start using it," she said.
CF White Horse Plains staff will administer the site and monitor content to make sure it’s appropriate.
As more information is added to River Connection, Palson predicts it could become a valuable resource for residents of the RMs of Cartier, Headingley and St. Francois Xavier, but more municipalities may want to be included.
"Our attitude is: the more, the merrier."
Check out the website at www.theriverconnection.ca