A Rossland man has been named to work with businesses in the Boundary on growth, planning, and business strategies in the face of COVID-19.
Andrew Zwicker is the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce’s new rural community advisor.
“It’s all about getting in touch with as many businesses as we can, learning about their needs, and what help they require,” Zwicker said in an interview.
He said he can help businesses access grants, find the staff and connections they need, and provide one-on-one personal support. Zwicker began his new position at the start of this month and has begun meeting with business owners to get the lay of the land.
Zwicker was previously with the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology, where he was in a similar role. He worked with about 250 businesses and developed over 175 action plans and marketing strategies.
Some of those businesses, he said, have since made “amazing strides.” He also discovered a “whole bunch of COVID success stories.”
While each business was unique, there were some recurring themes, including helping them get online, establishing an e-commerce store, digital marketing, and adopting new technology/automation.
A large part of his role comes in personal coaching. “Sometimes entrepreneurs are one-person shows and it gets overwhelming,” he says. “Sometimes they just need a chance to talk to someone and get it all out.”
Zwicker has been in small businesses most of his career and has held various positions in marketing. About five years ago he got involved with KAST and economic development.
He expects his work in the Boundary to be similar to his previous role with KAST, although the nature of the businesses may be different, since agricultural is a larger part of the economy than in West Kootenay.
Zwicker’s services are free to all who live in the Boundary or have a business here. He expects to be here two or three days a week and says he’s already impressed with the area’s history and geography.
“People in the Boundary have an unbelievable pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit. The creative potential is there. If we can help you unlock that, there is tremendous potential.”
Funding for the one-year position comes from the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior.
“We’re very excited to be receiving this funding,” said Sarah Dinsdale, marketing and revitalization co-ordinator for the Boundary chamber. “As a regional chamber covering such a large area this position will play a critical role in supporting our businesses in the rural area, but also in Grand Forks.”
A website with an intake survey will soon be launched, but in the meantime you can contact Zwicker at email@example.com.