Chamber works to move incubator project ahead

The Rimbey Chamber of Commerce is working behind the scenes to launch a program

Jackie Stratton

The Rimbey Chamber of Commerce is working behind the scenes to launch a program that could give fledgling businesses the roots to grow and finally, the wings to fly.

The incubator project, which is up and running successfully in Rocky Mountain House, may catch on here, said chamber president Jackie Stratton.

The program works by providing a large commercial space, dividing it into smaller areas, and allowing small businesses to set up shop there.

Businesses would be given reduced rent, have access to mentoring services and receive promotional suggestions and encouragement.

The incubator project is successful in other communities such as Rocky Mountain House.

Michelle Andrishak, manager of the program in Rocky, attended a meeting in Rimbey recently. She said government funding for the program helped the incubator project get off the ground, adding there were receptive business owners who were willing to participate.

“We were fortunate. We had renters right off the bat,” she said. “We were ready to rock and roll in three months.”

Andrishak said she was pleased to help the renters become self-sustaining.

“They were my chickens in a hen house. I really wanted them to survive.”

While the businesswoman said she would be happy to help Rimbey in an advisory capacity, a manager would be needed to oversee the project.

“I would be happy to act as an advisor and assist you in any way,” she said. “I can advise you, but you would manage it.”

The project is simple, she said.

“If you can’t afford a house, you get a roommate. It’s simply a commercial version of that.”

At a Rimbey Chamber of Commerce meeting, held last Wednesday, Mayor Rick Pankiw told chamber representatives to suggest the town supply seed money for the project for one full year in their business proposal.

While Pankiw didn’t confirm the town would dish out the seed money, he said the town is “interested in helping.”

The chamber plan to work on a business plan and approach home businesses within Ponoka County to gauge the interest.

Chamber president Jackie Stratton is optimistic the incubator program could work here.

“I could certainly see it here. It certainly would give small businesses the opportunity to test the waters when they are just starting out.”

Some of the businesses in Rocky Mountain House who participated in the incubator program were Pure Healthy Essential Oils, That Game Store, KES Graphic Designs, Cougar Ridge Bookkeeping, Coldwell Banker Realty and Deep Reflections, a registered psychologist.

For more information about the incubator program, contact Jackie Stratton at 403-843-2727 or Carrie Baartstra at 403-843-2944.