Humboldt and its surrounding area is on the cusp of potential large scale growth, and that’s a situation that is going to require forethought and planning. So says a group of businesses and development agencies who are banding together to start the workings of a “business incubator” for new businesses. The project, spearheaded by the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce, looks to identify entrepreneurs with aspirations for business creation to support Humboldt’s needs. It also has the potential to identify businesses from outside the region and support their gaining a foothold in the economic community. It all starts with a formative meeting via Zoom this Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 pm. 

The idea, in its earliest stages, comes as a blank slate, says Chamber Director Brent Fitzpatrick, but it has already generated a lot of interest in the business community.

“Our plan for this is a blank piece of paper,” says Fitzpatrick. “We are asking people what they see as a vision for business and business expansion in our region, and it's not just Humboldt or Muenster - it’s beyond that.”

Fitzpatrick contends that the continuation of BHP’s Jansen Project is fuelling the need for initiatives such as this, given the potential economic ripple the mine will continue to generate. The growing population will require more and varied businesses to support new and existing residents. It spells opportunity for new enterprises and for established operations, says Fitzpatrick.

“I’d be safe in saying there isn’t one business that’s not going to be impacted by this growth in the next few years.”

The Zoom meeting is sponsored by Sagehill Community Futures along with Cherylynn Walters and Shannon Sambrook of Prairie Valley Consulting. Together, the facilitators will help to guide the discussion of what area stakeholders and residents are hoping to see as part of a future development. Once the opening meeting highlights gaps or needs in the region's business sector, Fitzpatrick says it's time to open the data gathering to a wider audience and a more refined process. 

“We’ve engaged Schollie Research and Consulting, and Elan Buan, to do a survey with the public in general and the business community within a 100 kilometre radius.”

The survey will try to gauge the participants’ interest in particular businesses and services and drill down on the needs of businesses to expand or diversify. 

It all begins this Thursday with the Zoom meeting. Fitzpatrick confirmed several dozen attendees with more coming on board. Participants range from local business people to those in government, corporate positions, and entrepreneurs. 

Once the data is gathered, the ultimate goal is to plan a model to support development and prepare funding options for emerging and developing businesses. Those options could include private investment, grants through agencies like Sagehill Community Futures, and avenues with financial institutions.Fitzpatrick is grateful for the participation of Sagehill Community Futures in showing support for the venture.  In the end, Fitzpatrick hopes to see a steering committee evolve to help design the best models for financial, marketing and strategic support. 

Some of the businesses Fitzpatrick suspects may emerge from this kinetic environment include mining supports, manufacturing, small scale value added agribusiness and even culinary tourism.  

“There’s so much potential out there, and this Thursday’s meeting is the door opening for us, and we begin to walk the path.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the incubator project can contact the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce at (306) 682-4990.