Businesses, social enterprises and the workforce in the Columbia Basin now have access to even more support to help them in these challenging times. In response to ongoing COVID-19-related developments—including the re-opening of many businesses—Columbia Basin Trust is expanding the ways it can help people and businesses move forward.

“The current phase of the provincial government’s restart plan has introduced new requirements with public health and safety as the priority,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “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:

Small Business Working Capital Loans: These loans provide working capital and operating funds to help small businesses and social enterprises adapt to the new re-opening requirements. The low-interest loans can now be used for capital expenses, such as equipment needed for re-opening, and the maximum loan amount has increased to $40,000. Applicants may now apply even if they have received funding from other programs. The financing can also be used for items like rent, wages, inventory, renovations and personal protective equipment. Learn more at ourtrust.org/wcloans.

Basin Business Advisors: This program is putting an emphasis on helping small- and medium-sized businesses, including social enterprises, become more tech-savvy. This is in addition to its ongoing goal of making businesses stronger through free, confidential, one-to-one business advisement. For example, a business might need to increase their online presence, develop an e-commerce website, create a digital marketing plan, move to cloud based file management or boost manufacturing productivity. This program is delivered by Community Futures. Learn more at bbaprogram.ca.

Summer Works: The Trust is increasing the number of small businesses that can receive wage subsidies to hire students. Although the program had already closed for the 2020 summer season, it is being re-opened to accept applications as of June 5, 2020. Administered by College of the Rockies, this program provides wage subsidies to help small businesses hire high school and post-secondary students, in part-time or full-time positions, over the summer. Learn more 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. Now, even more people will be eligible. This includes self-employed people, plus workers who have been temporarily laid off, have had their hours reduced or need to diversify their skills to adapt to businesses that have modified their products or services due to COVID-19. People can now access $1,000, up from $800. The program can also support up to $7,500 of training costs for Specialized Skills Training, now including early childhood, health care and agriculture related certification. Learn more at ourtrust.org/tfs.

The Trust has also increased assistance through existing programs like the Impact Investment Fund, Basin RevUP and the Career Internship Program. See all the resources and support available at ourtrust.org/covid19 or call 1.800.505.8998.

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