Small Business Week kicks off in Lacombe

Wayfinding signagae highlighting businesses in downtown Lacombe. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Lacombe’s entrepreneurs and business community will be celebrated Oct. 20-26 as Lacombe recognizes Small Business Week (SBW).

While the community likes to celebrate local business on a year-round basis, the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director Monica Bartman says it’s important to showcase local business, and acknowledge the important role it plays in building the city.

“The federal definition of a small business is less than 100 employees. When you look at that information, there would be very few businesses in Lacombe that would not be federally recognized as a small business,” said Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Monica Bartman. “That’s who we are in this community.”

About 98 per cent of businesses in Alberta are small businesses, according to Industry Canada statistics, and of the chamber’s approximately 275-280 members, at least 50 per cent have between one and four employees, making Lacombe the “poster child” for small business.

However, given a touch economic climate in recent years, coupled with decision made by the various levels of government, Bartman says businesses locally have definitely had their fair share of struggles, from concerns over changes to the minimum wage to the introduction of the carbon tax. More recently, she said there’s been a shift towards concern over marketing and advertising efforts as Lacombe and central Alberta continue to grow.

With a provincial election held earlier this year, and the federal election to take place Monday, however, she says a lot of people tend to show restraint and not spend so much with their business until it’s known exactly what decisions the government in power will make that will affect them.

Such situations make celebrating SBW even more important.

“Every year we try to do something a little bit different, but I always try to offer some kind of free education for businesses. Budgets for small businesses are tight so there’s a lot of value in being able to go to a business planning workshop or media session and have it be sponsored,” she said.

Over the past few years, SBW has grown from just the annual Business and Community Awards Gala to a full week of events geared around networking, encouraging entrepreneurial spirit and setting local small businesses up with tools for success. This year’s edition has grown beyond the chamber-organized events to also include a variety of business-related activities.

On Monday, Oct. 21, festivities kick off with the SBW edition “lunch mob” at Leto’s at 12 p.m. A casual networking event taking place over lunch, it’s capped at 14 people, so registration is required. Everyone is responsible for paying for their own meals, but there will be a business card draw amongst attendees to have their lunch paid for.

“We did one last year and it worked quite well,” said Bartman. “It’s a fun atmosphere with a small group so you have a chance to meet everyone that’s there and have some great conversation.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Dale Schaub from Business Link in Edmonton, a government-funded organization that provides business aid in a variety of ways, will be in the community to put on two workshops, including one on social enterprising – how to turn business profit into good for the community, such as Cilantro and Chive’s Burger of the Month, from 10-11 a.m., as well as one on business plans from 1-4 p.m. at the Best Western Lacombe.

In the evening, Painted Light Photography will host “Business After 5” from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., with opportunity to network, win door prizes from local businesses and update your profiles with free head shots from Painted Light owner Marlene Palamarek.

Afterwards, the Burman University Business Speaker Series will continue with Solomon Financial talking about “The Business of Business” from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. in Room 117 at the McKibbon Centre.

Wednesday, Oct. 23 will be all about social media as Jo(e) Social Media will walk attendees through their Facebook for Business: Level 1 course at 9 a.m., and Instagram for Business at 1 p.m. at the Best Western Lacombe.

Thursday Oct. 24 will see ATB host an Entrepreneur Centre Pop Up at Blindman Brewery from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., including a fireside chat with Lacombe Auto Service Centre’s Donnie and Elaine Lysons and a brewery tour. Limited seats are available.

Ugly’s Pub and Grill will host their grand re-opening during SBW on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. to mark the completion of renovations done this month.

SBW will wrap up with the Business and Community Awards Gala on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

To register for SBW events or to purchase tickets for the gala, visit lacombechamber.ca.

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