Giving local businesses a boost to meet demand

Starting, purchasing or growing a business often requires financial support. Like other traditional lenders, the Trust welcomes smart investment opportunities—like these two examples.

AN ESSENTIAL PLACE FOR PETS

Co-owned by Dr. Amber Robinson and Jason Schroeder, the Nakusp Veterinary Clinic aims to be a place of low stress for animals. Sure, they may have to endure the odd needle, but there are also yummy treats, stress-relieving pheromones and the occasional refrain of relaxing classical music. “This means a great deal to us as business owners and how we want to practise medicine here,” says Robinson.

The clinic also means a great deal to the people of the community—if Robinson and Schroeder hadn’t stepped in as the previous vets retired, pet owners might have faced long drives to the nearest vet.

The couple has been treating pets “fear-free” in Nakusp since June 2018. Before that, they and their three children lived in Victoria, where Robinson also worked as a vet. But when Schroeder lost his job as a software developer, it was time to consider “how to run life differently,” he says.

By chance, they heard the previous vets in Nakusp were set to retire. Unfortunately, though, the couple had a hard time securing financing to set up a new clinic. That is, until they received a loan from the Trust.

Now, Schroeder concentrates on the business side of things while Robinson offers a range of veterinary services, primarily to cats and dogs. Aided by the occasional locum vet, they’ve had a constant flow of clients right from the get-go.

They’ve also been supported by a team of nearly half a dozen staff members. “They’ve been learning a lot,” says Robinson, and some even plan to do additional training. “That’s part of our objective when running a business,” she says: not only to provide a service and make an income, but to build the skills of people in the community.

As for life in Nakusp, the family hasn’t had much time to explore the area yet—a by-product of living on top of where they work. “From that particular side, we’re still new here,” says Schroeder. “We’ve barely finished unpacking.”

THE CRESTON FARM WITH INTERNATIONAL REACH

In addition to the Creston Valley’s vineyards, wineries and orchards, there’s another type of agriculture-based business making a name for itself beyond the beautiful, fertile valley. PR Forage Co. Ltd. farms more than 2,550 acres to produce timothy hay for export to Japan.

With few local buyers that are already well supplied, selling to faraway markets is a win for the business and for the region, as it brings in outside money to support the local economy. During its busiest season, PR Forage also employs up to 16 people full-time, who prepare the shipments that average 26 metric tonnes.

“We bought the farm from Wynndel Box and Lumber in 2014,” says owner James Kemp. “Timothy had been grown on that property for the seed industry for some time. The owners had a relationship with Columbia Basin Trust, and the Trust was ready and willing to provide our financing.”

Kemp says that once he got into the hay production business, he realized that if he contracted out the processing and transport, his profits would be minimal. He needed more equipment and higher production without a crippling increase in cost.

“In partnership with the Lower Kootenay Band, we invested in our own custom hay press,” Kemp says. “We partner with LKB and profit-share with them on the hay press production. We also purchased four trucks for our own use.”

PR Forage also leases 1,500 acres of farmland from the Lower Kootenay Band (also known as Yaqan Nuʔkiy) for timothy hay production, plus gets timothy hay from other Creston Valley farmers who lease land from the band. “The partnership with LKB began in 2007,” says Kemp. “Without their continued support, we would have a very tough time staying viable.

“As Indigenous people, the Lower Kootenay Band puts an emphasis on land stewardship, and they like the lower environmental impact of our operation. Timothy is only re-seeded every five years on average, and has a relatively low fertilizer and chemical input compared to some other annual crops.

Together, PR Forage, the Lower Kootenay Band and the Trust are ensuring another successful, sustainable agri-business in the Creston Valley.

Two-way benefits

The Trust invests in Basin businesses to help them be successful and make an economic difference in the region. It also invests in them to generate the revenues it needs to fund its programs and services, alongside its investments in power projects, market securities and real estate.

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