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Page A2 Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Free Press


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Qualizza to sit on UBCM executive

Mayor Qualizza was elected third vice president of the UBCM last week Scott Tibballs The Free Press Editor

Kootenay businesses achieve international success with Export Navigator How small businesses are finding new customers in changing times most helpful. Every business is different, which is why we take the time to get to know our clients so that we can offer the best possible service. Our clients want to expand and they want to contribute to their community; that is always top of mind for our advisors.”

Export Navigator client Popov Leather.

As a year of uncertainty continues, it has become more critical than ever for small businesses to nd creative ways to succeed, and many are turning to Export Navigator for advice and support. Operating across B.C., the free Export Navigator Program has been helping businesses grow since 2016 — now, it’s stepping in to help businesses like Popov Leather from Nelson to innovate and adapt. Export Navigator is a free program that connects business owners with a local export advisor who can help them nd new customers beyond B.C. From growth planning to information about exporting, business owners across the province have applied free advisor support to expand with condence. Throughout the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the advisors at Export Navigator have been helping businesses nd ways to pivot and succeed in the face of new challenges — such as taking advantage of e-commerce platforms and learning how to access government funding resources. With more businesses turning to the program, its success stories now span a range of industries and countries. Program manager, Allison Boulton believes it’s the local aspect of Export Navigator that has been fundamental to its success in helping small businesses:

Nelson-based export advisor Michael Hoher has been working with businesses across the Kootenays to help them export. One of Michael’s success stories is Popov Leather, an artisan leather wallet and belt manufacturer based out of Nelson. Since 85% of Popov’s sales came from outside of Canada, founder Ryan Popoff knew that exporting was fundamental to the success and resilience of his business, but he required expert guidance to ensure that he was following the best practices of complicated foreign market regulations — and that’s where Michael bridged the knowledge gap. Armed with new insight on how to protect his international growth, Popov founder Ryan successfully optimized his export strategy and made his business more resilient. “Michael helped direct me towards areas of focus that I would not have realized, such as taking into consideration cultural differences when approaching distant markets or foreign market requirements for importing goods, such as labeling.” From solo startups with a small customer base to larger corporations that already export to some select markets, Export Navigator is available to businesses of all sizes in the Kootenays and across B.C. To continue helping businesses in the Kootenay Region, the free program is accepting online applications. To support underrepresented groups, businesses owned by Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth can expect specialized support and are also encouraged to apply. Export Navigator gratefully acknowledges that we live, work, and play on the traditional territories of the Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia.

“I often hear business owners telling me that it’s the regional element of Export Navigator that is

Sponsored by Small Business BC

Michael Hoher Export Advisor for the Kootenays We help Kootenay businesses grow by guiding them through gh the export process. Join the free program through your local ad advisor.

The Export Navigator Program is funded in partnership with Western Economic Divers ersification Canada and delivered through Small Business BC and Community Futures

In what she described as an “absolute flurry” of communications, Mayor Ange Qualizza has been elected as third vice president in the Union of BC Municipalities (UCBM) 20202021 executive during the virtual 2020 UBCM conference. Qualizza was elected in a run-off election following a tie in the first round of voting. “Covid-19 is going to be the largest disrupter to our local economies we have ever experienced, and UBCM has an excellent relationship with the provincial government,” she said. “I hope that I can lend my skills to advocate for continued commitment from the province on the economic recovery package and rebuilding strategy that will see investment come to communities like Fernie.” Qualizza said that her positions held on

various external boards had proven invaluable to Fernie, and her new position as third vice president was no exception. “As chair of the Resort Communities the fourteen of us rolled up our sleeves, wrote and presented a 200-million dollar rebuilding strategy that includes creating a funding steam that focuses on infrastructure investment to help communities like Fernie address; livability challenges, work force housing issues and supports our environmental commitments. “This was met with success, and Minister Beare before the election was announced, met for the first time with 33 communities that all serve the tourism industry and introduced a funding stream that was designed to support us to strengthen our communities. “This was a great result from our shared advocacy, and I hope that my role as 3rd VP for UBCM can bring more investment back to rural BC.”

Fernie Food Action Strategy hosts community engagement night Soranne Floarea The Free Press Reporter

The Fernie Food Action Strategy, a group dedicated to fostering greater food resiliency in the Elk Valley, hosted a virtual community conversation on Sept. 23 to discuss vulnerabilities in Fernie’s food system. The organization was created by Dawn Deydey and Gaetane Carignan, who noticed the fragility of the local food system in light of the pandemic. The Fernie Food Action Strategy hopes to remove barriers to accessing local food by identifying gaps in the Elk Valley’s food web. The organization hopes to engage local governments to revise policies and actions, begin food security initiatives, shorten supply chains, and develop a food strategy that enables enhanced local food production. At the public engagement meeting, attendees discussed the preliminary results of a public survey that assesses the current challenges and successes of accessing locally grown food. According to Carignan, survey results are indicating that the majority of respondents purchased extra pantry staples at the onset of the pandemic – including rice, beans and canned foods – pointing to the need for greater

food security within the Elk Valley. In response to the public engagement meeting, organizers are going to be reviewing what other communities are doing to foster greater food resiliency and consider bringing those solutions into the Elk Valley. Other ideas brought up at the meeting to help strengthen the food system include shared community food infrastructure such as land use or green houses. Carignan also expressed gratitude towards the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) for their support in recognizing agriculture as a strategic priority. Specifically, the CBT is currently working with British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture to complete studies looking into the needs of the region in terms of agricultural innovation. The Food Action Strategy’s public survey will remain open until Oct. 31, after which the feedback received at the virtual meeting along with survey results will be compiled into a Food Action Strategy document and presented to council at an upcoming council meeting. Another online engagement session will also be held in the new year, following the creation of a draft strategy. For more information or to provide input, visit

Conservation Officers seek public assistance Conservation Officers are seeking public assistance in the search for individuals related to the poaching of a mule deer buck within Elkford town limits. According to Conservation Officer Ryan Gordon, at around 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 22, a mule deer buck was poached off Hwy. 43 inside Elkford town limits. “Witness reports indicate 2 males in a black mid 90’s lifted Chevrolet truck were seen in area,” said officer Gordon. “Although Mule deer season is open, discharging firearms on highways is illegal as is shooting within town limits.” Anyone with information relating to this illegal The location Conservation Officers allege the poaching activity please contact the RAPP line 1-877-952- took place within Elkford town limits. It is north of the 7277. intersection with Alpine Way.

Profile for Black Press Media Group

Fernie Free Press, October 1, 2020  

Fernie Free Press, October 1, 2020

Fernie Free Press, October 1, 2020  

Fernie Free Press, October 1, 2020

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