Chilliwack, BC – Shirley Shxwha:yathel Hardman, Chairperson of Stó:lō Community Futures (SCF) announced that SCF is the proud recipient of the Community Futures of BC (CFBC) Award for Excellence and Innovation. This top award for the best performing Community Futures organization in BC, was presented to Michael Watson, General Manager of SCF, at the CFBC annual meeting held in Kimberley, BC. The CFBC Award for Excellence and Innovation is awarded annually amongst the 34 Community Futures Offices in British Columbia, to highlight unique initiatives and projects.

SCF launched an unique and aggressive economic branding campaign last year, STÓ:LŌ MEANS BUSINESS. The Vision of the SCF Board is to create a leading centre for Aboriginal business in BC, in Sólh Téméxw (the Stó:lō Traditional Territory). This exciting branding initiative has already had a measurable impact in Sólh Téméxw, by helping to create new Aboriginal businesses, raising business skill levels, promoting job creation and retention, and increasing the visibility of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Communities. STÓ:LŌ MEANS BUSINESS has also raised awareness of the Community Futures program and services, while demonstrating innovation and unique creativity in Aboriginal economic development.

Several successful ventures have been created under the STÓ:LŌ MEANS BUSINESS initiative. Announced at the launch of STÓ:LŌ MEANS BUSINESS in 2014, the Bank of Montréal (BMO) initially pledged $100,000 to be lent to qualifying Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs under the SCF/BMO Micro Loans Program, for small start-up loans of less than $10,000. The SCF/BMO Micro Loan Program has been so successful, that BMO has now committed $400,000 to the SCF/BMO Micro Loans Program.

Also at the STÓ:LŌ BUSINESS MATCH, held in October, 2014, in Abbotsford, Vancity announced their pledge of $1 million, for the development of a new the Stó:lō Community Loan Fund, also to be managed by SCF, for Stó:lō Community-owned businesses.

“For our local Aboriginal business owners, this is a recognition of the growing economic vibrancy and positive impact that Aboriginal businesses are having on local economies throughout the Fraser Valley,” explained Shirley Shxwha:yathel Hardman, Chairperson of SCF.” “SCF has been instrumental in elevating the profile and supporting the development of Aboriginal owned businesses throughout the Stó:lō Territory under the umbrella brand, STÓ:LŌ MEANS BUSINESS.

Michael Watson, General Manager of SCF stated; “This is the second time within five years, that SCF has been recognized as the leading Community Futures office in BC. In 2010, SCF was recognized with the Minister’s Award of Excellence and Innovation from Western Economic Diversification, for the LEED Gold certified Stó:lō Resource Centre, which was overseen and project-managed by SCF. The Minister’s Award this Year, is very important, and a recognition of the phenomenal growth occurring in the local Aboriginal business community and Stó:lō economy” explained Mr. Watson.

Background Information:

The Traditional Territory of the Stó:lō, S’olh Temexw, represents nearly 15,000 Aboriginal people in the Fraser Valley. The growth of Aboriginal businesses is already proportionately the fastest growing business sector in Canada. A recent study undertaken by SCF and the Provincial Government identified over 250 businesses in the Fraser Valley area that are owned by Aboriginal communities and entrepreneurs – many of them having been in existence for more than 10 – 20 years.

SCF a non-profit organization mandated to provide support in community economic development and business growth to Aboriginal peoples living within the Stó:lō Traditional Territory. SCF embraces and celebrates Stó:lō cultural values and believes in creating and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit in the Stó:lō and Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal business growth, economic development opportunities and Aboriginal partnerships with the private sector are experiencing growth and prosperity across Canada. STÓ:LŌ MEANS BUSINESS captures this spirit and says, “Consider the Possibilities. Stó:lō is open for business.”

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