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CBT expands its COVID-19 supports for workers and businesses

Several existing programs from Columbia Basin Trust aimed at helping businesses and workers get through the COVID-19 pandemic have been expanded as the B.C. economy starts to reopen.

CBT said that the four programs it has revised are its Small Business Working Capital Loans, Basin Business Advisors, Summer Works and Training Fee Support programs.

Low-interest loans of up to $400,000 will be available from CBT to help get businesses to a point where they can reopen confidently and safely.

“The way businesses operated back in December is likely going to be quite different from how they operate today, and in many cases that involves some costs in order to adapt how they work and how their stores are available to customers, or even how its made available online. In many cases, those businesses require just a little bit of support to get this restart moving,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO of CBT.

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As well, business advisors are available to help small businesses adjust to a new economic landscape with free consulting through the Trust.

“There has been a massive increase in enquiries from businesses wanting to better understand how they can become more tech-savvy. In most cases, it has to do with how they can establish a stronger online presence, from a marketing perspective or a sales perspective,” said Strilaeff. “What we’re doing is we’re just readvising businesses out there that this program is here to help them on a one-on-one basis to talk about their specific business requirements and provide advice on how they can increase their online presence and benefit from online sales.”

Strilaeff added that demand from both customers and businesses to have more ability for online retailing has gone up.

As well, CBT’s summer works program has been reopened as of June 5th to allow more businesses to apply to subsidize wages for student workers. The budget for the program will be expanded as needed to meet demands, according to Strilaeff.

“With what we’re seeing in communities now, and the number of students that are seeking opportunities, we wanted to make additional funding available. Really, it’s putting additional resources into an already existing program to try to support businesses during this restart process, while increasing opportunities for more students to find summer employment.”

Lastly, the Trust’s Training Fee Support program has been expanded so more people who may have reduced hours or unemployed can receive job training.

“We will now make it available to self-employed individuals or workers who have been just been laid off or had their hours reduced. This is funding available for skill enhancement, to increase their knowledge in a particular area, and its funding that goes directly to those courses. We’re also expanding it to include more funding for specialized training in a few arrears where we’re seeing really high demand,” explained Strilaeff.

Those who wish to get additional training can apply for up to $1,000 for job education. Meanwhile, those that go for specialized training, such as health care, agriculture or child care, can apply for up to $7,500 to pay for courses.

More information and applications to the various CBT programs can be found here.

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