Second conference already in the works

The “Exploring Partnerships, Business Development and Financing” conference at the Couchiching Bingo Palace last Wednesday and Thursday was an unqualified success, organizers said.
“It was wonderful, a great success, and we’re looking forward to hosting another one next year,” co-organizer Christine Jourdain said. “We’re in the process of contacting more individuals.
“Next year will be more of a one-day information session with a hands-on workshop the next day,” she added. “Application forms can then be filled out with presenters.”
Jourdain admitted organizers had wanted more provincial government representation at the conference but the strike by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union precluded that.
“Next year, hopefully the government won’t be on strike,” she said.
Organizers also hope to see representation from district banks next year. They were invited this year but all turned the invitation down, Jourdain said.
“We’d love to see the banks come out because they’re the ones [aspiring business owners] will approach,” she noted. “We’d encourage them to come out. And we don’t want to target just one bank, we want them all to come out.”
Another plan for the second-annual conference is to showcase business success stories. And registration will be free once again next year, too.
The conference—a partnership between the Rainy River Future Development Corp. and the Couchiching First Nation Economic Development Commission—featured booths and speakers from the Aboriginal Business Service Network, FedNor, Aboriginal Business Canada, and the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
Business leaders, band chiefs, and district politicians attended the event to network and learn more about what’s available to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jennifer Rasmussen of Kenora, who was on hand representing FedNor, gave advice on business plans, development, and financing.
Meanwhile, Lisa Belanger, a business development advisor with the Northern Venture Initiative Office, told delegates her organization is more than willing to help with business plans, marketing, and needs assessment.
Her office even offers the use of their equipment.
“These conferences help us keep in touch,” said Belanger, who’s also co-ordinating a women’s conference to address community networking skills and self-employment options that’s scheduled for September.
Jourdain also credited Eugene McPherson for spearheading the conference.
“If I didn’t have Eugene, this wouldn’t have occurred,” she said. “Without him, the conference wouldn’t have happened yet!”