Community Futures is funded in part by Western Economic Diversification Canada. Created in 1985, Community Futures has its roots in previous federal government programs that emphasized long-term job creation with a particular focus on creating jobs in small, entrepreneurial settings. This marked an important shift away from earlier policies that focused on direct, short-term job creation programs that addressed a broad range of economic challenges that faced communities as they struggled to deal with the fundamental restructuring of Canada’s resource based economy. At the same time, federal government policy makers were moving towards the adoption of a “bottom up” approach to economic development. They recognized that local communities knew how to respond to local problems more quickly and effectively than outside agencies.
In 1983, the government created Local Employment Assistance and Development (LEAD) corporations in economically depressed regions across Canada. LEAD corporations were governed by a volunteer board of local business people with access to a variety of resources, including an investment fund, to help entrepreneurs in their communities create or expand their businesses.
During the 1990’s, additional Community Futures groups were established to cover regions that hadn’t yet been served. There are now 34 offices covering the entire province, excluding the metropolitan areas of Vancouver and Victoria. In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the program was transferred to Western Economic Diversification. The network of some 90 Community Futures organizations across western Canada bolstered WD’s ability to actively engage rural communities in developing and diversifying their regional economies.
Over the years, Community Futures groups have demonstrated their ability to establish partnerships and leverage resources on behalf of their communities. They understand the unique challenges and opportunities their communities face, and can respond quickly to changing circumstances.
Today, our Community Futures Central Island office, a non-profit organization is still guided by a volunteer board of directors and staffed with business professionals, providing business loans, training and coaching, and expert resources for people wanting to start, expand, franchise or sell a business, and to owners of small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the central Island.have demonstrated their ability to establish partnerships and leverage resources on behalf of their communities.
The focus of Community Futures is to build community economic and entrepreneurial capacity, with an emphasis on long-range strategic planning and results. CFs are proactive, locally autonomous and non-profit organizations that are working hard to mobilize their communities to achieve stronger, more sustainable futures.
Community Futures Central Island’s Role in Community Economic Development
Community Futures, through their strategic planning, determine the role they will play in CED in their communities. For example, they may decide to be the leaders; or the facilitators; coordinators; partners, etc. CF has many “tools” which they can use to affect CED within their area. These tools can include such resources as a loans portfolio, technical support, business counselling, training programs, strategic planning for organizations/communities and project development and access to grant capital.
Historical Successes and Contributions to Community Economic Development Initiatives
Benefactors of Community Futures Central Island in our Region:
- Salmon in the City – $75k
A three-year multi partner initiative from 1998 to 2000 that designed and constructed fish ways that provide permanent access to the quality spawning and rearing habitats in the Millstone watershed.
- Nanaimo River Fish Hatchery
CFCI operated the Nanaimo River Fish Hatchery from its inception in 1979 – until 2004 when the Nanaimo River Stewardship Society was formed.
- Vancouver Island Conference Centre – $25K
CFCI was an inaugural sponsor of meeting room space at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
- Vancouver Island University – WestCAPP Funding
We provided funding to assist in the design and construction of two projects:
1) VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station – $500K
2) International Centre for Sturgeon Studies – $500K
- French Creek Harbour Improvement Project – $84K
The project was a partnership facilitating harbor restoration and improvements to provide infrastructure to support new forms of fisheries, aquaculture and marine based tourism businesses locating in French Creek.
- Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce – RDN Area B Ec Dev Strategy
A collaboration between the GICC and CFCI to develop an economic development and tourism strategy after the dissolution of Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and Tourism Nanaimo in 2016.
- LEAP! Oceanside 2019 – $20K
This project was a new and unique initiative of CFCI for the Oceanside area. LEAP! (a local entrepreneurial accelerator program) is aimed at cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit of the community by assisting start-ups with the development of networking/collaborative learning, market research and determination of their minimum viable product based on the lean model canvas business plan.
- Other Initiatives
For over the 44 years, we have supported central Island communities.