Following the success of the inaugural Northwest Growth Conference (NWGC), organizers say a second conference is in the works.
More than 200 delegates attended the conference in Prince Rupert on March 6 and 7 to learn of the $60-billion in major projects proposed in the area.
Aimed at new and existing entrepreneurs and investors in Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat, the NWGC consisted of speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.
“It was the caliber of information provided and the invaluable networking connections that made the conference substantial for both small businesses and stakeholders alike,” said Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc, who attended the event along with Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain and Port Edward Mayor Dave MacDonald.
The NWGC allowed entrepreneurs to take in expert advice on topics such as branding, financing and joint venturing with First Nations. They were then able to follow-up with the experts in one-on-one coaching sessions.
“As a small business owner, it can be a challenge to find mentors and business advice that fits within a small budget. But the Northwest Growth Conference for small to medium businesses fostered an environment that helps those businesses to succeed, to discover and implement new ideas for growth and success,” said Christy Allen of the Pioneer Guesthouse.
A panel of industry reps gave an overview of economic development opportunities in the Northwest, the implications for small and medium-sized enterprises in the region and how to become involved.
Another panel touched on the darker side of growth, with a seasoned panel of business leaders from sudden growth economies likes Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Kitimat speaking of their experiences.
Furthermore, keynote speaker Michael H. Shuman provided information on creating a stronger business community able to withstand external pressures, with entrepreneurs like Prince Rupert’s Herb Pond and Terrace’s Lucy Praught sharing stories during a “Failure Wake” that showed failure is often the best path to long-term success.
Fresh Onion Café and Catering was one of seven businesses providing cuisine samples during the Taste of the Coast, with owner Kristina Horne saying the activity was a great networking opportunity.
“We were able to talk to the other vendors in town and see how business has changed over the year, how they are handling the new opportunities and what changes they have made in promoting and keeping up with the services they are providing,” Horne said.
The first Northwest Growth Conference and trade show exhibition was organized through a partnership with Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest, the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society and the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation.
“I am personally very excited about being able to provide future jobs in the local economy as a direct result of the relationships fostered during this event. I look forward to participating in the 2016 growth conference,” said Mike Bourgeois of the BC Commissionaires.