November 14th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 46
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Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Pictured are the 2018 Business Award Winners. Top row, left to right: Jeff Smith, owner of Steep Peak; Sacha Anderson, Chamber President; Robert Parkins, owner of Integra; Rick Breakenridge, owner of SpringBreak. Bottom row, left to right: Jenice Smith, owner of Steep Peak; Lisa Attaway, Crowsnest Community Market; Val Breakenridge, owner of SpringBreak.
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
Three vacancies were filled on the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors during its annual general meeting (AGM) at the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on November 8.

Joining president Sacha Anderson, Kyle Schofield (Servus Credit Union), Julia Hicks (RBC Royal Bank) and Claire Rogers (Riversdale Resrouces), each with one year left on their term, are new members Brad Edmondson (Crow Works Engraving) and Rick Breakenridge (SpringBreak Flower Farm). Tim May, general manager of The Rumrunner, was re-elected for another term.

Past board members Peter Bubik (PB Power Inc.) and Koral Lazzarotto (Burrows Building Corp.) did not run for another term.

2018 was a noteworthy year for the Chamber, marked by some very successful programs and grants.

Perhaps most notable is the Roaming Travel Counsellor program, funded by a grant through Alberta Tourism, which allowed the Chamber to hire Anna Koevoet as the Crowsnest Pass Adventure Advisor. Koevoet made a great impact in engaging tourists face-to-face and via social media, giving out information on events, local businesses and activities to do in the area. According to the President’s Report, Koevoet engaged in one-on-one interactions with over 1,300 visitors to Crowsnest Pass. She and her neon green bike were a consistent, visible presence at most, if not all, Crowsnest Pass events.

A new initiative in 2018 was the Best of Crowsnest Awards where the community voted on their favourite nominees in 32 categories. Overall, there were just under 800 unique emails registered to vote. The Chamber hopes to grow the event next year with new categories.
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With the municipality’s project to revitalize downtown Coleman throughout summer and fall 2018, the Chamber made sure businesses were prepared. They proposed a business communication strategy for the municipality to follow and created a “Construction Survival Guide” that shared tips to mitigate the inconveniences of road construction. However, in September 2018, it was announced that due to cost, the project was deferred to 2019.

In partnership with Community Futures Crowsnest Pass, the Town and the M.D. of Pincher Creek, Castle Mountain Resort, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, the Chamber of Commerce of Pincher Creek and the Alberta Southwest Regional Economic Development Alliance, the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce was successful in securing a grant from the Tourism Growth Innovation Fund to fund a Regional Destination Management Organization, an initiative that will continue into 2019.

2018 Business Award Winners

The 2018 Business Award Winners were given out to businesses making a splash over the last year. Here are the results:

New Business of the Year – Steep Peak Kombucha

Business of the Year – SpringBreak Flower Farm

Outstanding Customer Service – Integra Tire Auto Centre

Community Spirit Award – Crowsnest Community Market


Panel discussion

A panel of three new and established business owners engaged in discussion about the business climate in Crowsnest Pass.
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Panelist Heather Davis, the “newcomer on the block”, started her guiding company Uplift Adventures this summer and is a certified guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Dawn Rigby’s Country Encounters started out as a B&B and now, the catering side of her business serves some 100,000 meals a year. Rick Breakenridge never expected to be in the wedding business when he and his wife opened the SpringBreak Flower Farm gardening centre, yet they now host about 20 weddings a year.

If running a business were easy, Crowsnest Pass wouldn’t have so many boarded up windows and empty storefronts. But the challenges are many when it comes to entrepreneurship, and they vary intrinsically from business to business. They could be administrative, like a lengthy and laborious process to obtain licensing and inspection clearance, or infrastructure-related, like a lack of facilities, which panelists pointed out as being applicable in Crowsnest Pass.

And, as Rigby added, operating a business in a small town has its own challenges distinct from metropolitan centres.

"Because it’s a small community, you have to wear more than one hat,” said Rigby. “It's difficult to only do one thing. Find everything that matches together, yet still stays true enough to what you do to make a cash flow."

Picking up on the topic of cash flow, Breakenridge pointed out the financial struggle during the first few years in business.

“We all think we can get our business started for X dollars. The fact of the matter is, it takes more like 3X. But don't give up, keep going,” he said.
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For Davis, the biggest challenge has been connecting with her target market and spreading the word about what sets her product apart from similar enterprises.

“A challenge has been getting tourism here and getting people to understand why they need a guide or why you might refer someone to a guide" she said. “ACMG has the highest standards for guiding, focusing on people’s safety. Trying to get that out to people instead of just going out with a friend is a challenge because in this community, we're so used to just doing things on our own.”

Starting a business is one challenge, but maintaining it presents a multitude of other demands, hurdles and lessons learned. Panelists shared their biggest piece of advice for other business owners.

"Believe in your values and stick to your values,” said Davis. “That’s the biggest lesson I learned this year. Just because someone wants to work with you, doesn’t mean you should work with them. Make sure your values match up.”

Breakenridge didn’t set out to be in the wedding business, so on that note, his piece of advice was to “figure out what it is that you're selling, figure out what it is you want to excel at and focus on what matters, but be open to opportunities that come."

A chamber member in attendance pointed out that the panel is entirely made up of businesses in the tourism industry and questioned how the Chamber is helping non-tourism-oriented business.

Rigby had an answer that showed the interconnectedness of all businesses of Crowsnest Pass.

"They start out as tourists. I can't tell you the number of people who have come here as tourists to begin with, come back because they're buying a house and we end up being the advocates for [suggesting] realtors, carpenters, plumbers. It spins off that way,” she said.

Along those lines, a strong takeaway message of the entire night was for the Crowsnest Pass business community to support each other.

“When one of us gains, we all gain,” said Breakenridge. “None of us does it at the expense of the other, we all do it with the support of each other.”
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November 14th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 46
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