A new program is in place to help businesses become targeted destinations for customers and clients from both inside and outside their traditional draw areas. Destination Business is a series of workshops and smaller courses set up to support businesses in Saskatchewan and Manitoba thanks to support from the Rural Opportunity Fund (ROF) 2.0 and Community Futures Mid-Sask. 

“It’s really designed to empower small business owners in a variety of different sectors by providing them with the tools and knowledge necessary to position themselves as a destination business within their respective industries or regions,” explains Lilah McIvor, general manager of Community Futures Mid-Sask. “That could be anything from a tire shop to a lumber yard to a florist. There’s really no end to who can and can’t be a destination business. It’s whether or not you are drawing in customers from outside of your respective region.” 

With an aim to guide entrepreneurs as they identify their company’s unique and compelling qualities, the program focuses on marketing, leadership development, business collaboration and more. A release from Community Futures Mid-Sask notes that the program has made strides since its launch in the fall of 2023. A total of 274 participants have undergone training through the Destination Business Program. The program has successfully delivered three Destination Creation Courses, providing participants with foundational knowledge to position their businesses as destinations. 

Beyond the main courses, additional connector programs, including 'Canva Magic Studio,' 'Reels for Small Business,' and 'ChatGPT & Your Small Business,’ provide specific training in tools and technologies to help businesses advance their marketing agendas. The programs came out with a recommendation rate of 96 percent from participants with a resounding “yes” to the program’s effectiveness and impact.  

Best of all, the program is not tied to the Mid-Sask region, but it’s been designed for use in all Community Futures areas and across the border into Manitoba where programs have been tailored to support businesses regardless of size, community or business orientation, says McIvor.  

“I think the timing has been critical because it is moving into tourism season, so a lot of people are taking advantage of courses in their ‘down time.’ Even though the program is not specifically designed for tourism businesses, that has been much of the uptake, so far.” 

The programs are delivered online at varying intervals and are provided at a minimal cost to businesses.  

“We have quite a few sessions coming up over the next while, so everyone is encouraged to keep their eyes on the website to see if there’s a time that work,” McIvor says. “We have some in the evenings, some in the mornings just to make it work for people in different sectors.” 

For more information on the program itself, check out destinationbusiness.ca. To register for courses and connector programs, head to cfsask.ca/mid-sask.