Brussels-based Community Futures Huron receives award
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Brussels-based Community Futures Huron has received a 2021 Small Business Award from Corporate Vision magazine in recognition of its support of local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community Futures Huron General Manager Paul Nichol notified The Citizen of the award on Monday, saying it’s unclear who nominated the local organization for the award. The United Kingdom-based magazine has been handing out its Small Business Awards since 2016.
Nichol said that much of the work being done by Community Futures Huron to help local businesses weather the storm or adapt through the COVID-19 pandemic came by way of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.
Community Futures Huron distributed $1,663,291 in Regional Relief and Recovery Fund loans to 82 enterprises throughout the pandemic. As a result, 255 jobs were maintained in the county.
Forty-five of those loans went to sole proprietors, while 35 went to main street businesses, followed by 13 tourism operators and one social enterprise. Community Futures Huron was able to assist the Blyth Festival with the development and construction of its outdoor Harvest Stage, allowing for a 2021 theatre season, in addition to providing aid to the Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail and assisting a local group with the purchase of Logan’s Mill in Brussels.
Twenty-four per cent of the loans went to retail businesses, followed by accommodation and food services at 16 per cent. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services each represented eight per cent, followed by arts, entertainment and recreation and healthcare and social assistance at six per cent each. Wholesale trade represented five per cent, while transportation and warehousing was at four per cent, real estate and rental and leasing was at three per cent and construction represented one per cent. Eleven per cent of the loans went to other services, which did not include public administration.
Over the course of the year, Community Futures Huron stimulated over $16 million in economic development activity, supporting over 300 farms, businesses and social enterprises and nearly 525 workers in the local economy.
Not only were funds distributed to local businesses that needed help as the COVID-19 pandemic wore on, but the organization also worked to provide advice to businesses on how to adapt and thrive during the pandemic.
Nichol says that, in the organization’s 28 years, it has won nearly 35 awards. He sees any award won for the distribution of Regional Relief and Recovery Fund loans as a victory for the program, as well as for Community Futures organizations across the country.