Latest news

Pricing Principles Workshop

Cochrane Job Fair Coming to the Cochrane RancheHouse

SMARTstart wins the 2015-2016 Minister's Innovation Award

The Airdrie Business Resource Partnership (ABRP) wished to create a program combining online training, in-person workshops and a mentorship component that would target entrepreneurs in the development phase or in the first three years of business.  Over the course of the program the businesses would either develope a business plan or update their current business plan.

In 2014 the SMARTstart Entrepreneur Training Program was created with components of online training, workshops and local mentors. Partner contributions were leveraged with an Alberta Government Community Initiatives Project Grant for year one and in January 2014 the first sponsorship was welcomed.  By December 2014, sponsorships had been pledged for the 2015 program. The second SMARTstart program located in Airdrie launched late February 2015.

Project goals included: Increased capacity through training education and networking, building collaborative partnerships with government, private business and industry leaders to implement strategies to increase productivity, investment in research, development, growth and innovation. It was imperative to partner with organizations and/or communities to improve the business support system to early stage business and youth entrepreneurs.

Click link to hear some of our entrepreneurs share their experiences and the value of being part of this inaugural program. 

Entrepreneurs share their experiences and the value of having a mentor. 



Training for Your Board of Directors

Community Futures is your Board Training Partner
Board Members are dedicated, hardworking volunteers. They are highly skilled in a variety of areas of governance. Regardless of their experience with boards, operations and financial management, Board Training will ensure that they continue to be effective in their governance roles.
Make your board be the best it can be with with Community Futures Leadership Institute Board training for Community and Not-For-Profit Organizations.
We offer proven, effective Board Development Training in the following areas:
  • Operations-Board and Staff
  • Legal Responsibilities of Boards
  • Financial Management 
  • Board Development and Evaluation
  • Management, Recruitment, Performance and Evaluation
  • Board Leadership
  • So You Want to be a Chair-Chairing with Confidence

How it Works

Community Futures Centre West will work with interested parties to select and schedule a training session that is of interest to your board. 

For more information contact Dianne Graham at 403 464-2572



What if?

If nobody asked “What if?”, what a boring world it would be. Fortunately, there are entrepreneurs in big cities and small towns who do. People who are driven to create, build networks, find markets, and grow ideas into reality. Every single advancement in history was developed by somebody who had the curiosity and courage to ask “What if?”. It’s no different in rural Western Canada where opportunity is there for those who seek it. If you’re one of those people, we’d like to talk. We're Community Futures, an organization that provides affordable and flexible financing to help you start, expand, buy or move a small business. If you’re willing to ask “What if?”, we may well ask you “why not?”. For more information, get in touch today.



Rocky Mountain Ventures Hosts Successful Grizzly's Den

Rocky Mountain Ventures, a not for profit volunteer driven organization intent on stimulating the Bow Valley’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, held its inaugural Grizzly’s Den business pitch competition on Wednesday September 24, 2014 at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff.

Inspired by the popular Dragon’s Den show airing on CBC, Rocky Mountain Ventures’ Grizzly’s Den event aimed to give thriving entrepreneurs the opportunity to present business opportunities to qualified investors from the area and across Alberta.  “The Bow Valley is home to highly skilled entrepreneurs and experienced investors – which makes for a perfect recipe for new and fast growing business opportunities,” says Eric Schmadtke, founder of Rocky Mountain Venture, Vice-President for Enertech Capital and resident of Canmore.

Rocky Mountain Ventures launched in June and has been quick to form a solid board representing entrepreneurs and investors with expertise in a wide range of sectors including information technologies, wearables, specialty products, engineering, consulting as well as representatives from municipal and provincial economic development agencies.  “Our goal is to leverage existing strengths and attract new players in order to make the Bow Valley a hub for innovation and economic growth in fast-paced industries,” adds Schmadtke. “The Grizzly’s Den is our first effort in creating an engaging dialogue between entrepreneurs and investors in the area and we hope to build on this event in the future with more initiatives.”

Rocky Mountain Ventures would like to thank Banff Venture Forum for providing the room at the Banff Springs Hotel - four companies pitched to a standing room only crowd.  "It was exciting, fast paced and truly tested the companies ability to pitch - just like the Dragon's Den," said Jodie Eckert of Community Futures Centre West.

For more information about Rocky Mountain Ventures please see

There is Much to Celebrate

Many people dream of starting the perfect business - one that matches their own values, interests and talents, while offering value and meaning to others. Barbara Parker has done exactly that. Through her Canmore-based business, Threshold Ceremonies, she crafts one-of-a-kind ceremonies to help people mark life’s significant occasions.

Barbara, a non-denominational, certified Life Cycle Celebrant and Marriage Officiant, explains, “Life involves ceremony and ritual. We cross thresholds at certain times in our lives and want to honour them: births, deaths, and marriages, for example. When you commemorate certain times, it can be very powerful and add great meaning.”

While her husband, sculptor Tony Bloom, was creating a metal gate commissioned for the Lethbridge cemetery, Barbara took notice, not only of the artwork’s title – Threshhold, but also of the significance of a specific symbol in the sculpted work: a coiled circle with two sides extended upward, as if to embrace. It was the perfect representation of what she wanted to do – offer others a feeling of completeness, yet also encompass hope and significance.

As non-denominational Celebrant and Marriage Officiant, Barbara is able to conceive a ceremony with exactly the words and intention to suit the circumstance. “I wanted a business I could see myself doing for the next 15 years – something I could grow and age well with,” she laughs. “It can be daunting at any age to start something brand new, but so worth it. I’m constantly learning, and this is the perfect match for me.” She describes how important it was for her to start a business that aligned with her values. “It’s so empowering to be able to make my own decisions, based on my beliefs, needs and wants in the world.”

Although officiating weddings currently occupies most of her time, Barbara also offers end-of-life celebrations and other rites of passage.  When planning a wedding, she tells couples, “Whether secular, nature-based, spiritual, or interfaith; the words and rituals we choose will reflect who you are as a couple, and what your vision of the future might be.” She respectfully welcomes the chance to assist all backgrounds and beliefs, including same sex couples.

Barbara started her business in 2013, after time spent in the education field and art gallery management and working for several small businesses over the years, which she credits as a sources of gaining a basic understanding of how things work. She also turned to Community Futures Centre West, a local non-profit, funded organization that offers support and access to resources to new and growing businesses. “Having access to a variety of experts was phenomenal,” she says. “I gained insider information about all aspects of business, and CFCWest helped me preplan so when I opened, I had everything set up – processes, pricing and procedures. I did my homework. It’s wonderful to know there are organizations and people out there who support entrepreneurs. Without their help, my learning curve would have been much more ragged.”

Words of wisdom for aspiring business owners? Barbara smiles, “It’s possible! If you have an idea, a desire to do something yourself, it is definitely possible.”

(as submitted to Alternate Routes - The Cochrane Guide (2014), written by Patricia Alderson)

New small business tool launched – Concierge Service

December 2, 2013 was the official launch of the Concierge Service – a single access point where any SME looking to innovate and grow can find professional and timely advice. This new service will be administered through the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) combining online, phone and in-person assistance for SMEs to find and access business research and development programs.

The Concierge Service addresses one of the recommendations made by Canadian firms, organizations, and stakeholders, following extensive government consultations concerning federal R&D support. The consultations found that SMEs struggle to understand and access much of the R&D support available to them, and recommended a concierge service along with a web portal to address this issue.

By combining online, phone, and in‑person assistance, the Concierge Service provides a single point of contact. Canadian businesses will now have easier access to government innovation assistance programs, to help them develop and bring their products and services to market more quickly, helping them to grow into globally competitive companies. The entire service is intended to assist entrepreneurs reach their desired objectives.

(text taken from News Release:


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3209, 101 Sunset Drive
Cochrane, AB T4C 0W7


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