Southwest Business Expo in Kola on Feb. 8
January 24, 2023, 4:27 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts
This year will be the sixth annual Southwest Business & Entrepreneur Expo which will be taking place at the Evangelical Mennonite Church, in Kola, Manitoba on Feb 8.
The event is open to the public and targeted at any business owner or anyone considering starting a business. There is an educational program, tradeshow, networking time and a pitch competition with real cash awards.
“Every year we try to put together information to help local businesses, whether they’re thinking about starting a business or they’ve started and want to grow. That’s been the purpose of this expo,” said chairperson and economic development officer for the RM of Wallace-Woodworth Tiffany Cameron.
“We have a pitch competition for someone who has an idea. We have some cash to help them get it off the ground. We’ll be having speakers, a trade show, breakout sessions for learning, but the audience is always entrepreneurs.”
A wide-range of speakers from CRA, CPA Manitoba, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Futures will be at the expo.
There will also be a panel of local entrepreneurs who will be sharing their experiences in business to fellow entrepreneurs.
“We have a panel of entrepreneurs in the morning. We have three local ladies who have started businesses from scratch. We’ll be interviewing them and asking them questions,” said Cameron.
“We’ll have Juanita Funk of Covenant Ranch Feed & Tack, Kim Richardson of Lucky Break Ranch, and Sara Corrigal of Southwest Strength.
“Then after the panel we’ll have our keynote speaker Kim McConnell. Kim is originally from Hamiota, but lives in Okotoks, Alberta right now. He started a business in his garage with $5,000 and is now one of the largest full service marketing agencies for agri-businesses.
“Because he’s originally from Hamiota, he has a real soft spot for rural Manitoba and that’s why we were able to get him to come to Kola. He’s a world class speaker, I tell people they should expect to see a speaker like him in Calgary or Toronto, and we’re getting him in Kola.”
McConnell is the founder and the former CEO of AdFarm, one of the largest and most respected agri-food marketing communications firms in North America.
He is also the recipient of many national business awards including ‘Agri-Marketer of the Year’ and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation “Mentor of the Year.” In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame, and in 2017 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Aside from McConnell, there will be an additional six to ten experienced entrepreneurs speaking at the event as well.
“We hope to have 100-250 community members coming to attend the expo,” said Cameron.
“I really want to see people come out and I really want to fill that room. It’s $40 for the day, that’s including your lunch. It’s a pretty good deal for a day of learning and thinking about your business.”
People can register for the event online at: www.swbusinessexpo.com or through the expo’s Facebook page: 6th Annual Southwest Business & Entrepreneurship Expo in Kola, MB.
What will be happening throughout the day?
Cameron spoke about what the day will consist of at this year’s expo.
“Doors will open at 8:30 a.m., but we’ll have speaking begin at 9:30 a.m. The keynote speaker will be at lunch time, ” she said.
“Then in the afternoon we have three options for our first breakout session. We have a CRA Liaison Officer coming from the Government of Canada to talk about Tax Help for Small Business. She’ll talk about GST remittances, write-offs, payroll, and all sorts of questions that every small business has.
“Then we have a speaker, Stephen Sutherland. We saw him speak in Winnipeg, he’s from the Canadian Mental Health Association. He’ll be talking about finding work-life balance and taking care of yourself. As entrepreneurs tend to put that to the back burner, it’s always nice to take a moment.
“We have Community Futures presenting their Build a Better Business Program which is for people who are thinking about how to start a business, how to build a business plan and what you need for that.
“Then in the afternoon we have CPA presenting how to understand your financial statements. We also have a company coming in to talk about building a brand for your business. We have a little bit of everything.”
Attending the southwest expo is a great way to network and start your business from the ground up, said Cameron.
“Starting out in business or running your business can become isolating. Your friends and people who you normally associate with may not have that experience or expertise, so you’re looking for people who have done what you’ve done,” she said.
“You’re looking for people who have already surmounted those challenges and can share their knowledge with you. We’re just trying to create that community and we have over the years through this expo.
“We have people who come back every year who are networking and learning from each other. I think in some cases that relationship goes beyond just the expo, that they have new contacts and new people they can call.”
Cameron said she is excited for the event.
“I think this event is a great opportunity. I personally, enjoy motivational speakers and hearing other peoples stories, and to have someone of quality like Kim McConnell coming, will be enjoyable in itself,” she said.
“Then to have all the added bonuses of these education topics and examples of other small businesses in the area that have overcome challenges and have figured out how to be successful, who have come through the pandemic in many different ways.
“It’s just sort of a nice refreshing day where you can think about your business and think about your goals. We like to have it early in the year so that you’re motivated to keep growing and putting plans in place for your business for the year.”