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Passionate. Flexible. Self-motivated. Focussed.

These are just a few of the adjectives that describe the entrepreneurs in our District. But the one that seems the most accurate and timely right now is “risk-taking.”

Risk is the operative word for entrepreneurs, whether they run a franchise, or a mom and pop. In the uncertainty of COVID-19, our local entrepreneurs have taken on the lion’s share of risk. As the economic drivers of our town – and from whom many of us collect our paycheques – they have had to balance the needs of their business, their employees, their community and themselves, to keep our collective heads above treacherous and murky waters.

But most dictionary definitions fall short in describing an entrepreneur. They say nothing about their creativity, grit and tenacity. COVID-19 hasn’t created those traits – it’s simply amplified them.

We saw that this past weekend, as camp owners united to rally for the survival of an industry decimated by the border closure. We’ve also seen it in our local shops, which have found creative ways to connect with customers, like enhanced websites and Facebook live shop tours.

Within hours of the Premier’s announcement that we could enjoy our favourite restaurants through outdoor dining, patios magically appeared across lawns and parking lots. No committees to study the issue. No wait and see. Just the can-do, get ‘er done, entrepreneurial spirit, in action. In no time, they created welcome back patio parties, with special menus, balloons and celebration. A little touch of carefree summer living, in a dreary post-COVID world.

Our local businesses have been navigating these COVID waters, regulation by regulation, day by changing day. They’ve erected screens, measured out floor stickers, created delivery and pickup options, sanitized and sanitized again. They’ve shouldered the risk, and forged ahead, keeping as many on the payroll as they possibly can.

Now that we’re into Phase 2, give some thought to our local business owners and entrepreneurs. COVID may have shown us how easy it is to shop at Amazon, but it also showed us the importance of connection, community and relationships. Amazon doesn’t pay your bills, or keep your property taxes low. The people who write the paycheques and take the risks in our local economy are also our neighbours and our friends. And right now, they need a hand from all of us. Thankfully, saving the economy is fun – it’s lunch on a patio, a haircut at our favourite salon, a wander through local shops to see what’s new, or even a weekend away at a local lodge. Now that we’ve seen life with all those doors locked, it’s a small price to pay to keep them open.

By Megan Walchuk