Columbia Basin Trust program expansions offer assistance to struggling small businesses

by Julie Matchett
Smiling young man behind counter.

Columbia Basin Trust is expanding the ways it can help people and businesses move forward in response to ongoing COVID-related developments. — Photo courtesy Columbia Basin Trust

Day by day and week by week, the B.C. government is slowly easing the COVID-19 restrictions we have all been living with since early March. Businesses across the province are re-opening, provided they can meet new safety, distancing and hygiene guidelines. Welcome to our “new normal”.

To help support local businesses and social enterprises, the Columbia Basin Trust is expanding the ways it can assist people and businesses move forward in this challenging time.

Said Johnny Strilaeff, president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Basin Trust, “To help the region’s businesses and workforce navigate these changes, we are adjusting our programs and services to provide relevant support, such as low-interest loans to help with modifications to business operations, free advice on how to become more tech-savvy, wage subsidies to hire summer students and support for short-term training.”

The Trust has revised four programs:

Basin Business Advisors: In today’s technology-driven world, having savvy tech skills is vitally important. In addition to its ongoing goal of offering free, confidential, one-on-one business advice, this program is now putting an emphasis on helping small and medium-sized businesses develop practical and useful tech skills. Need help increasing your online presence, establishing an e-commerce website or creating a digital marketing plan? This program is for you! Delivered by Community Futures, you can learn more about the program at bbaprogram.ca.

Small Business Working Capital Loans: Are the new re-opening requirements being enforced adding extra financial strain to your business? This program provides working capital and operating funds to help small businesses and social enterprises adapt to these changes. Low-interest loans can now be used for capital expenses, such as equipment needed for re-opening, personal protective equipment or renovations. Applicants may apply even if they have received funding from other programs. Learn more at ourtrust.org/wcloans.

Summer Works: As of June 5, 2020, the Trust is re-opening the Summer Works program. This program provides wage subsidies to help small businesses provide summer employment to high school and post-secondary students on a full-time or part-time basis. Learn more about the Summer Works program at ourtrust.org/summerworks.

Training Fee Support: This program helps unemployed and underemployed people take short-term courses, online or in-person, that help them secure employment. The Trust has increased the number of people who are eligible for this program. Applications will now be accepted from self-employed individuals, plus workers who have been temporarily laid off, had their hours reduced or need to diversify their skills due to COVID-19. This program provides up to $1,000 for tuition. For Specialized Skills Training, a bursary of up to $7,500 is available. Learn more about the Training Fee Support program at ourtrust.org/tfs.

In these extraordinary times, The Columbia Basin Trust is committed to providing support and training to businesses and residents throughout the region. For a list of all available resources, visit ourtrust.org/covid19 or call 1-800-505-8998. 

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