The COVID-19 pandemic brought on many challenges for communities, especially for the small and medium-sized businesses that consistently drive local growth and innovation.
When pandemic health measures changed how people accessed local goods and services, many small businesses struggled. Some of them could not access early federal business support programs. They had to keep searching for help with their financial pressures.
The Government of Canada, through PrairiesCan, launched the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). This program supported small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that faced challenges during the pandemic. Many Alberta businesses needed financial relief. In order to meet those needs, we partnered with the Community Futures Network of Alberta and 27 local offices to deliver RRRF support in rural areas.
Community Futures is a network of rural, non-profit corporations. They help entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses. They focus on creating jobs in rural communities by providing services such as business loans, guidance and training. Community Futures also offers services tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs with disabilities. PrairiesCan provides ongoing funding to Community Futures offices across the Prairies. During the pandemic, Community Futures was a vital lifeline supporting economic recovery for local businesses and communities.
From May 2020 to June 2021, Community Futures helped more than 1,700 rural Alberta businesses with $85 million in liquidity assistance through the rural stream of the RRRF. Community Futures processed 2,800 RRRF loans to their business network. These loans helped rural firms that urgently needed financial help to keep their businesses open. Thanks in part to Community Futures support, many local businesses that might have failed during the pandemic are still in business today.
Community Futures in Alberta were able to:
- disburse over $85 million in loans
- support over 1,700 businesses
- help support over 9,500 jobs
By delivering RRRF funds, Community Futures helped thousands of Alberta SMEs to survive the effects of the pandemic. Rural organizations received support for new, creative ways to serve customers while following the health measures and keeping everyone safe during the pandemic.
As these rural organizations grow, they will continue to innovate in their communities and drive the economy in rural Alberta.
To find the Community Futures office nearest you, please visit the Community Futures Network of Alberta.
Transcript: Rural businesses in Alberta relied on support from Community Futures through the COVID-19 pandemic
Video opens on a photo of a barn in the winter with the Community Futures Network of Alberta logo on the screen.
Video transitions to a zoom call with a woman in her kitchen.
PHYLLIS MAKI: I'm Phyllis Maki. I'm the Executive Director with Community Futures Network of Alberta.
Video transitions to the Community Futures website. Video scrolls through the Community Futures website main page.
Community Futures is a federally funded program that's been around for over 30 years now, that helps small and medium sized businesses in rural communities.
There's 27 offices here in the province of Alberta.
Video transitions to a map of Alberta. 27 pins on the map mark where Community Futures offices are located.
Video has 2 inset videos of 2 rural small business clients. The first inset video shows a man working in a greenhouse. The caption reads: Green Eggs and Ham, family farm.
We look at economic development. We look at what's important to the community that we're working in, and then how we can go about helping to support those small businesses to keep the economy of those small communities going.
Video transitions back to Phyllis Maki in her kitchen.
When the pandemic first hit, I think there was so much unknown, and so unknown tends to create fear in any circumstance.
Video transitions to a dark screen. The lights turn on to see an empty Yes, Dog! Dog daycare and grooming Centre.
A female employee is tying her apron as she looks over an empty centre.
When we started thinking about the small businesses that we typically support and the communities that we support, rent still needed to be paid, utility bills still needed to be paid, and if their doors are closed, how are they going to pay those bills?
Video transitions to a couple, the owners of Green Eggs and Ham, looking over documents in their kitchen. A poster is on the wall that reads Green Eggs and Ham, Leduc, Alberta.
Community Futures exists because of the supports that we get from PrairiesCan.
Video transitions to a flow chart of the Government of Canada wordmark, an arrow pointing downwards to the Prairies Economic Development Canada signature, an arrow pointing downwards to Community Futures Network of Alberta logo, and an arrow pointing downwards to the words Loan Clients.
On the left, the words Regional Relief and Recovery Fund are shown.
When they introduced the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, it was a huge weight off of the businesses shoulders to know that there was actually going to be support coming their way.
Video transitions to Yes, Dog! employees helping dogs out of vehicles while it is snowing. Clips are playing of dogs playing in the snow with Yes, Dog! employees.
In talking with the 27 offices that were actually delivering these loans, there was a lot of heartfelt thanks from the businesses.
There was a lot of tears and they were tears of happiness because they really felt that there was someone there that was listening to what they needed and that was actually providing that almost instantaneous help.
Video transitions back to Phyllis Maki in her kitchen.
I think looking back on the last 2 years, we can all walk away feeling really proud that we were actually able to help these businesses and know that we've been able to maintain the economy in some pretty small communities.
Video transitions to clips of Green Eggs and Ham family farm. People are seen planting and watering crops in a greenhouse.
The owner of the farm is seen tasting food grown in his crops.
Video transitions back to Phyllis Maki.
So I say hats off to all of my offices, hats off to PrairiesCan, and thank you to the federal government for providing the funds for us to be able to do this and deliver this program.
Text on screen: Through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, Community Futures organizations in Alberta disbursed $85 million in loans, supported more than 1,700 rural businesses in Alberta, and helped maintain 9,500 jobs in Alberta.
Community Futures Network of Alberta logo appears on screen.
PrairiesCan website: www.prairiescan.gc.ca
PrairiesCan Twitter: @PrairiesCanEN
Prairies Economic Development Canada Wordmark appears on screen.
Animated Canada Wordmark appears on screen.