The Rimbey and District Chamber of Commerce held its annual general meeting Feb. 19 at the Super 8 Motel. Pictured are Tonya Hatala

Council approves financial support for the chamber’s incubator project

The Town of Rimbey has put its support behind the chamber’s proposal to launch a program that could give fledgling businesses the roots

The Town of Rimbey has put its support behind the chamber’s proposal to launch a program that could give fledgling businesses the roots to grow and finally, the wings to fly.

Town council has given thumbs up to give Rimbey Chamber of Commerce $50,000 seed money for an incubator project, which works by providing a large commercial space, dividing it into smaller areas, and allowing small businesses to set up shop there for a two-year time frame.

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.

Mayor Rick Pankiw said members of council and administration researched the project carefully and believe it would be a benefit to Rimbey.

“We think it’s a wonderful project,” said Mayor Rick Pankiw. It would be beneficial for businesses so they can get established and then move to their own store front eventually.”

Michelle Andrishak, manager of the program in Rocky 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.”

Chamber president Jackie Stratton said the chamber is excited to receive the seed money from the town. She said meetings are being set up, plans being put in place and partnerships looked at.

“It’s just baby steps at this point, but we are 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 Vaartstra at 403-843-2944.