Business liaisons to bridge pandemic recovery

Three new business liaisons will soon be settling into their roles across northeast B.C.

The Northern Development Initiative Trust has approved funding for three positions in the region, one each in Fort St John, Dawson Creek, and Fort Nelson. The liaisons will work with businesses over the next 12 months, and help connect them to resources and supports to deal with the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The goal will be to really capture a lot of comprehensive data about our business community, so it can be evaluated and we can make some decisions moving forward to help the economy recover up here,” said Cheryl Montgomery, executive director for the Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is finalizing its hiring process, and Montgomery noted the liaison's role is not just limited to Chamber members, and will be reaching out to Taylor and Hudson’s Hope.

“The goal of the position is to connect with businesses, all businesses not just Chamber members, but all businesses within our region,” Montgomery said.

Grants are the backbone for hands-on resources available to businesses, through NDIT and through federal and provincial relief programs, Montgomery said.

Fran Haughian
Fran Haughian, regional business liaison for Community Futures Peace Liard. - Linkedin

In the South Peace, Community Futures Peace Liard hired Fran Haughian as its liaison last week.

Haughian is the former communications manager for the Peace River Regional District, and recently returned from a six-month position in Inuvik as an economic project manager with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

"What we're first going to do is connect with businesses and see where they're at, and help them identify what government programs they may be eligible for," said Sue Kenny, general manager for Community Futures.

Youness Bourhim, regional business liaison for the Fort Nelson Chamber of Commerce. Supplied

The Fort Nelson Chamber of Commerce also hired its liaison last week.

Youness Bourhim, who moved here from Morocco two years ago, brings more than 10 years of experience in the agriculture, automotive, and fast food industries. Bourhim says he's looking forward to his new role, and expects his focus will be promoting tourism and helping offlline businesses make the jump online.

Bev Vandersteen, executive director for the Fort Nelson Chamber, says she's looking forward to working with Bourhim.

"Pretty excited about the funding and the position, being able to get out there and provide a little bit more capacity to help businesses, both COVID related and generally," said Vandersteen.

Email reporter Tom Summer at

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