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Armstrong Regional Cooperative has a long history of supporting community through annual donations to a number of different organizations and community events. As a co-operative, the Armstrong Co-op is owned by its members who as owners, share in the co-op’s profits. Last year, the co-op returned just over $3.7 million in cash and equity to its 17,500 members.
“If you are not buying from a co-op, the money may be going somewhere else and not back to your community,” says Keis. “When you buy from your local co-operative, you’re truly supporting your community.”
The student has become a teacher in Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur.
The Salmon Arm-based business competition has helped propel Laureen Shannon, a fourth-year Business student at Okanagan College, on a business development trajectory fuelled by community connections.
"I love this program. Once you’re in a launch, you’re in it for life,” Shannon explains. "We always follow up how they are doing, cross-promoting their business."
She began her studies in Office Administration, which capped off with a six-week practicum working with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS) on a variety of projects. One of the biggest projects included Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur — a Dragon’s Den-style business development competition, featuring a series of workshops that support participants in developing the building blocks of their businesses.
When Shannon returned to pursue her Bachelor of Business Administration, she joined Okanagan College Enactus — a student organization committed to offering community outreach projects.
"It allowed me to get to know students that had the same thought about giving back and making a difference in your community,” she says. “You are fostering a network that is creating positive change. It’s action oriented, they don’t just talk about change.”
Being part of the non-profit allowed Shannon to stay involved with Launch-a-Preneur, which is driven by three partner organizations: Okanagan College Enactus, SAEDS and Community Futures Shuswap. The program features a series of six workshops that cover the essential components for a business plan. In addition to the workshops, entrepreneurs are matched with business mentors specializing in fields that would benefit the new idea. For example, someone needing information on financials or accounting are partnered with local volunteers from BDO or Grant Thornton. The participants also have access to a pool of mentors ranging in expertise.
Since the program inception, 81 mentors from local businesses have provided countless hours of one-on-one training. Forty-four businesses have been involved, creating 78 full-time and 15 part-time jobs in the Shuswap.
"That mentorship begins a long-term relationship. They become customers, become partners, they’ll still work together in years to come,” Shannon adds.
Given the program runs every two years, Shannon and the Enactus team supported an accelerated weekend program last year that introduced participants to business plan fundamentals, with the option to join Launch-a-Preneur in 2019. This year, Shannon is a project coordinator for SAEDS, supporting sponsorship requests and facilitating sessions on her own.
“Over the last several years, our organization has had the opportunity to work with a variety of Okanagan College students on different community projects. We continue to be impressed by both the knowledge and passion to create change that OC students bring. We have been very fortunate to work with Laureen Shannon in different capacities, first as an Enactus volunteer and most recently as project coordinator for Season 5 of Launch-a-Preneur. The subject expertise, energy and unwavering commitment she brings to this program will provide ongoing benefit to our local entrepreneurs,” says Lana Fitt, SAEDS Economic Development Manager.
“Laureen is in a critical role this year, which is fantastic,” says Andrew Klingel, the Business professor who serves as an Enactus coach, alongside Terry Kosowick. “Community projects such as Launch-a-Preneur allow students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. They see what they are learning is relevant to their careers. They practice these skills, tools and techniques, which really builds their confidence. I’ve seen Laureen grow tremendously over the years, which is really rewarding to see."
Shannon takes her business development path in stride.
"For me, the benefit of taking part is being able to apply what I’ve learned in school, working with the entrepreneurs, and learning from them. Creating a relationship and connection with the participants helps grow my network,” she says.
The group is now prepping for Season 5 Final Night, where participants compete for thousands of dollars in prizes like seed capital, business consulting hours, website development packages, accounting and legal fees — all designed to assist with Shuswap startups. Teams present a short pitch to a panel of judges that include angel investors and successful entrepreneurs in the region. Prizes are awarded for green initiative, public choice and the judges’ top three selections.
“Launch-a-Preneur showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of the Shuswap,” says Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean of Shuswap-Revelstoke. “It is a great opportunity for the College and students to work closely with community partners and businesses to strengthen our region.”
Shannon wants to continue on with Launch-a-Preneur, having already witnessed the value that Okanagan College alumni bring to working with students and community members.
“Launch has given me a lot of openings for my future and what I want to do when I graduate. I’ll either want to run these programs all the time or be in it,” she laughs. "These people are starting up businesses, and they’re going to hire Okanagan College students."
Launch-a-Preneur’s final night is scheduled for March 14 at the Salmar Theatre. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online: http://launch-a-preneur.ca/. Proceeds support the Launch-a-Preneur program.
More health-care beds opening up is good news for patients and for those seeking careers in caring.
An intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled for May at the Salmon Arm campus, giving students in the Shuswap direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.
The intake couldn’t come at a better time for operators of Mount Ida Mews in Salmon Arm, which just hosted the grand opening for Phase 2 of its 60-bed expansion project.
"We are very proud to partner with Interior Health to provide quality senior care to the residents of Salmon Arm. The expansion of Mount Ida Mews will create 48 new jobs for nurses, health care assistants and hospitality workers in the community. We look forward to continuing to nurture our partnership with the community of Salmon Arm and thank everyone who was involved in bringing this project to life," says Melanie Reinhardt, President of Vantage Living which operates Mount Ida Mews.
According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecast at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.
“The need for health care assistants within the Interior Health region is growing. There are many employment opportunities for individuals who have this training,” says Interior Health’s Shalan Hundal, Health Care Assistant Recruitment and Marketing Project Lead. “Graduates of the HCA program can join our teams at Interior Health and choose to work in a team environment in long-term care or they can choose to work one-on-one with clients in home support. It is a great career choice for those who like making a positive impact on the lives of others.”
The intensive program runs for 26 weeks (six-months)
starting in May, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.
In addition to being in demand, students can also expect to find a career that’s highly rewarding, notes Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College.
“Health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in their care,” explains Kraft. “This profession also supports individuals and their families, as living wages are provided right out of school and a variety of shifts are offered, making it easy for people to find work that best fits their lives.”
An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Salmon Arm campus, 2552 10th Ave. NE. Students will meet program staff who can discuss the program and outline education financing options, admission requirements and supports for returning students. Information on Work BC funding eligibility will also be available.
Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-832-2126, ext. 8259 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.
“Seeing the Enactus OC students work so hard on their community projects and corresponding presentations was so motivating and to see their hard work rewarded with such success is so encouraging. As students we are able to use this experience to learn from industry professionals and develop skills to benefit our community. This opportunity wouldn't be possible without the experience from our alumni and support we get from our community partners, faculty advisers and Okanagan College, they provide an extraordinary footing for our team to depend on and grow from,” said Enactus OC Co-President Jamie Park.
First – James Dessert (Okanagan College, Kelowna, B.C.)
Bridge weighed 799.61 grams
Bridge held 137.94 kg
Second – Justin Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby, B.C.)
Bridge weighed 916.14 grams
Bridge held 128.55 kg
Third – Stefan Trajkov, Luiz Fernandez and Shafat Ismail (Red River College, Winnipeg, M.B)
Bridge weighed 999.36 grams
Bridge held 114.99 kg
Fourth – Joshua Greencorn and Riley Jackson (Anchor Academy, homeschool)
Bridge weighed 564.85 grams
Bridge held 12.01 kg
First – Tyson Kamstra, Joel deHoog and Eli Jansen (King’s Christian School)
Second – Sienna Collins, Maddy Darlington, Caroline Bernath and Taylor Blenkin (Okanagan Mission Secondary)
Third – Juliette Schilling, Maya Ufimzeff and Arashjot Hehar (George Elliot Secondary)
Fourth – Tori Hansen and Alivia Grey-Goodman (Springvalley Middle School)
Team Building Secondary
First – Sarah Congdon, Rudi Fink and Tyler Blumethal (King’s Christian School)
Second – Haley Partridge, Clayton Reay (King’s Christian School)
Third – Tyson Kamstra, Joel deHoog, Eli Jansen (King’s Christian School)
Team Building Post-Secondary
First – Clayton Uhlig and Keyvan Khadem (Okanagan College)
Second – Nita Joubert, Adam Thomson, Stefan Queen and Brendan Horsfield (Okanagan College)