Kitimat businesses wanting to expand into international markets are being urged to take advantage of an innovative export project recently launched in the northwest.
The pilot project, Export Navigator, is being run by Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) out of Prince Rupert.
Community Futures Pacific Northwest general manager John Farrell said the project has been running in the northwest since late fall in 2016, but was only launched in Kitimat at the end of April.
“Early gains in the new year prompted the province to expand the project to the northwest,” said Farrell. “We are starting to meet up with businessmen in the region and we already have three Prince Rupert businesses signed up.”
He said Kitimat has no shortage of entrepreneurs and has a lot of great businesses that are already poised to launch into other markets.
“How do you make businesses resilient when there’s no volume, especially in the northwest where it’s more difficult for companies to make it?” asked Farrell. “Business people need to think about exporting, expanding their markets, providing products and services to other provinces and to the rest of the world.”
He said he would like to get as many businesses into the government-sponsored six-month pilot project, which might prompt government to extend the project.
He said the CFDC is ideally looking for companies that have been in business for a few years, companies that anticipate potential growth and would like more customers, but are locked in by their location.
“The project will help companies expand and grow – we will work with business people and find out what their needs are, assess where they are in the marketplace and introduce them to a range of people and resources to help them reach the export market,” said Farrell.
He said the project consists of a four-stage program – depending on how ready the company is for exporting, the businessman can skip stages and go directly to where they are ready to “jump on a plane and meet importers and consulate staff”.
“Some entrepreneurs will come in at the beginning, and we will help them do the thinking,” said Farrell. “Other businessmen will know they want to be in other markets and will jump straight to stage four.”
The first stage, or Awareness Stage, involves entrepreneurs contacting the CFDC to fill out an assessment which will determine whether they’re ready to export.
The CFDC’s business advisor Eli Kelly has a team of advisors who are experts in trade and who will travel to Kitimat to consult with businessmen.
“We will brainstorm which market they want to be in and we advise them where the best opportunity will be,” said Farrell.
Stage two involves Planning and Validation, developing an export plan, and completing operational, distribution and finance planning, readying the business for their market.
Stage three involves overseeing the business’ initial market entry, facilitating logistics and product readiness and meeting with potential clients.
“This is where the rubber hits the road, hopping onto a plane and attending trade shows,” said Farrell.
He said the final stage involves developing, growing and strengthening the business.
Farrell stressed that companies interested in signing up must be serious about market expansion and should have a proven track record in order to know whether their business will succeed in another market.
The CFDC is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on stimulating community economic development, diversity and employment opportunities throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Anyone interested in signing up for the project can contact the CFDC in Prince Rupert on 250-622-2332, toll-free on 1-877-622-8288 or by visiting http://www.communityfuturesprincerupert.com.