Three Prince Rupert entrepreneurs have made it to the final stages of the 2017 ThriveNorth Business Challenge. Competing for a grand prize of $10,000 to help their new business or grow their existing one, as well as a $5,000 audience voting award, Prince Rupert’s Reid Skelton-Morven, Meghann Patterson and Marcie LeBlanc are all vying for the top prize in three different categories.
The third annual competition kicks off Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. at the North Coast Convention Centre. ThriveNorth, Futurpreneur Canada, BG Canada’s Prince Rupert LNG and the Province of B.C. return as organizers and supporters. $356,000 was provided by sponsors for this year’s event.
In the Best New Business (18-28 Years-Old) category, Skelton-Morven, a Rupertite of Nisga’a descent, is entering his business, Skeena Exterior Cleaning &Coatings, which aims to employ and train young and entry-level workers in the Skeena, Nass Valley and Haida Gwaii communities. Skelton-Morven is also a graduate of the Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program and the Social Media and Web Designing program from the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business.
Meghann Patterson enters her business, Sirius Exteriors, in the Best New Business (29-39 Years-Old). Patterson learned carpentry in Nanaimo before moving to Alberta for five years. Wanting to move back to the coast, Patterson moved to the North Coast a year ago and took a supervisory role at the North Pacific Cannery’s revitalization project.
“It was my first supervisory job and I definitely learned a lot about how to encourage people to get motivated … I loved working at the cannery, we did siding, painting and exteriors – I did everything.”
Her exterior house cleaning and small repair business has taken off in the area and so far she’s worked on three houses, dealing with windows, trees growing out of gutters, siding, deck repairs and more. She hopes to expand her business to clean up rot.
“I didn’t expect to end up here, but as soon as I came here, it was love at first sight … I love the size of the town and the people in town are just amazing,” she said.
In Best Growth Opportunity, Marcie LeBlanc is looking to expand her clothing and designer business, LeBLANC, in Cow Bay.
Opened in November 2015, the fashion boutique incorporates local artists and designers with international brand names to suit her customers’ needs. LeBlanc wants to expand by offering an e-commerce platform and start pop-up shops in northwest communities to drive up awareness and her customer base, as well as create local employment.
Each Rupertite is competing with three other finalists from northwest communities such as Terrace, Kitimat, Atlin and Telkwa.
Supporters can vote for their favourite business opportunity online to win the $5,000 Audience Award and in-person attendees can receive five votes to be divided amongst the contestants they choose.