Island Coastal Economic Trust Funds Community and Regional Advisor Positions Across the Coast

Katharine Chernyak is a Regional Advisor, hired under the new Rural Advisory Program, that will support the Community Advisors and provide coaching services to local businesses across the region.

$1.47 million in provincially-funded support committed for businesses and communities impacted by forest sector changes

COURTENAY, 13 June 2023 – New business and community advisors are working in rural and First Nations communities across the coast with $1.47 million in funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust through the Rural Advisory Program on behalf of the Province of British Columbia.

“With thankfulness for this ongoing partnership with the provincial government, our Trust is proud to be working with First Nations, local governments, and non-profits across the coast to support local businesses and communities with these investments,” says Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust. “Lack of funding to staff these important roles is a barrier for rural and remote communities to advance sustainable development that supports local businesses and strengthens peoples’ wellbeing in small communities — it is going to be very exciting to see the results these new roles create.”

The Rural Advisory Program, which is now fully subscribed, provides important funding to enable communities and regional economic development organizations to create or expand business and community advisor positions that work with local businesses and community organizations impacted by recent changes in the forest sector.

“By funding the Trust to create a new round of advisor positions, we’re ensuring rural communities and businesses have access to the supports and help needed as they transition toward building sustainable, resilient economies,” says Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “We are appreciative of Island Coastal Economic Trust’s continued efforts to support inclusive economic development, diversification, and innovation led by Indigenous and rural communities across Vancouver Island and the coast.”

The Trust launched this new program in February 2023, offering two funding streams to maximize local benefits and to strategically develop a network of professionals working together with complimentary business and community development expertise:

  • Funding for Indigenous and rural communities to create a new one-year term position that provides community and/or business advisory services; and,
  • Funding for non-profit business consulting and/or financial services organizations to create a new one-year term position that provides specialized and/or sectoral business advisory services across the Trust’s service region.

Across the region, these new advisors are providing services to address the impacts of changes in forest policy and other economic effects on the forest sector across Vancouver Island and coastal B.C. This includes working directly with local businesses and community organizations to consult or advise on financial management, business strategy, grant writing, e-commerce, sales and marketing, and more.

“Our community has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, and our tourism sector in particular,” says Chief Terry Walkus, Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations. “We, as the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations, are very grateful for the opportunities presented by this funding and are certain that the creation of our Cultural Events Co-ordinator position will be our first step in our regional Indigenous tourism strategy and a critical component of our recovery. This funding will strengthen Indigenous tourism across the North Island Region, provide employment opportunities, and create new opportunities for our members moving forward. Despite the difficult times, we as a Nation will always remain hopeful that with this investment into our future we will emerge even stronger.”

“This is the first time that the Village of Sayward will have an economic development position focused on helping identify business and development needs in the Village and the portion of Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Area “A” surrounding the Village”, says Sayward Mayor Mark Baker.  “The economic development coordinator will take the lead role in working with Mayor and Council and Village staff, community groups, industry and local businesses to identify and promote business development and diversification opportunities in the Village of Sayward and in Area “A”.

A total of four regional positions have been created and 16 community-based advisors. The latter includes seven advisors working in the Regional District of Mount Waddington, four in the Strathcona Regional District, two in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, two in the Alberni-Clayoquot region, and one in the Juan de Fuca area.

“Community Futures Central Island understands how important small and medium-sized enterprises are to the island economy,” says Jolynn Green, Executive Director, Community Futures Central Island.  Our vision and mission were keenly aligned with the mandate of the Regional Business Advisory Program and we saw it as a natural fit. We want entrepreneurs to feel supported and informed by empowering them to strategically align, diversify, grow, or scale their businesses to the next level of success ultimately contributing to the economy of our island communities.”

The community-based positions will receive grants of up to $70,000 and provide community and/or business advisory services. The four regional-based positions will receive grants of up to $100,00 to provide specialized and/or sectoral business advisory services.

“We will assist Indigenous businesses to explore new and emerging opportunities for entrepreneurs within our region with the goal of reducing the weight of negative economic impacts from forestry policy changes,” says Al Little, General Manager, Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation. The regional business advisor position will assist in the exploration of alternative uses of natural resources to diversify the use of resources and reduce reliance on a single industry.”

The positions will commence over the next three months and run through August 2024.

The new Rural Advisory Program builds upon the successes and learnings from a previous funding program that was delivered by Island Coastal Economic Trust on behalf of the Province of British Columbia. The prior program, Rural Recovery Program, invested in rural economic development recovery from the pandemic. Under the prior program, 37 rural recovery advisors directly secured over $15 million of new investment into economic development and diversification priorities in rural communities across Vancouver Island and the coast.


About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build an inclusive and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with local organizations in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $59 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $322 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

The Government of British Columbia’s StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today, while growing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds off B.C.’s strong economy recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities, and helping businesses and people transition to clean energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.


The Government of British Columbia’s StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today, while growing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds off B.C.’s strong economy recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities, and helping businesses and people transition to clean energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.


Media Contact

Brodie Guy
Island Coastal Economic Trust



Regional Advisory Positions

Community Futures Central Island: Business Coaches – $100,000

Two business coaches will work with 60 entrepreneurs and local businesses across mid-Vancouver Island to provide management consulting services, including advice on how to increase and diversify revenue streams, coaching business owners on how to prepare for a business loan, and guidance on business strategies. They will also provide one-on-one advisory and capacity-building services supporting 15 community-based advisors.

GrowthWorks: Regional Business Advisors – $100,000

Two business coaches will work with entrepreneurs across the North Island providing 60 businesses with advisory services, including advice on how to increase and diversify revenue streams, coaching business owners on how to prepare for a business loan, and guidance on business strategies. They will also, when requested, provide one-on-one advisory and capacity-building services to 15 community-based advisors.

First Nations Business Development Association: Regional Business Advisor – $78,000

The regional business advisor will, within the first six months, work with First Nations development corporations to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of development corporations and community-owned enterprises throughout the Trust service region. The advisor will facilitate communication between development corporations, provide market intelligence, and develop collaborative initiatives and, by year’s end, provide a comprehensive report summarizing activities, accomplishments, and strategic direction.

Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation: Regional Business Advisor: $100,000

The regional business advisor will offer management consulting for entrepreneurs throughout Nuu-chah-nulth territories and promote food security and access to local sustainable resources through the coordination of partnership opportunities. The position will also facilitate opportunities for economic diversification through a viability study focused on establishing an Indigenous local food procurement centre.

Community Based Advisory Positions

City of Port Alberni: Community Based Advisor – $70,000

Port Alberni’s community advisor will support small and medium-sized enterprises to ensure local businesses and community organizations are taking advantage of available funding opportunities while also creating online presence and e-commerce platforms. This position will work on advancing economic diversification efforts identified by Port Alberni’s City Council’s Corporate Strategic Plan, including working with blue economy businesses and placemaking initiatives.

District of Port Hardy: Recovery Officer – $70,000

The recovery officer will provide direct assistance to local businesses through free business audits, including up to 24 full audits, 10 social media/partial audits; and six community agency audits. This position will also support a downtown revitalization, through such activities as night markets, waterfront development planning, wayfinding, business façade and a community health and wellness initiative for the district to help build a healthier community.

Cowichan Valley Regional District: Community Economic Advisor – $70,000

The community economic advisor will engage at least 10 businesses in major Economic Development Cowichan initiatives and empower stakeholders around a minimum of three priority actions for implementation from Economic Development Cowichan’s recently completed strategies. The position will also apply for at least one grant that supports the implementation of economic diversification strategies.

K’awat’si Economic Development Limited Partnership: Cultural Events Coordinator $70,000

The cultural events coordinator will, during their first three months, engage with a minimum of 80 local/regional businesses and sign a minimum of 10 Memorandum of Understandings. They will host 10 to 20 new and culturally focused events or programs and increase Indigenous Tourism by 10%. A long-term strategy and partnerships for three new business lines or ongoing programs focused on Indigenous tourism will also be created.

Mowachat/Muchalaht First Nations: Tourism Infrastructure and Marketing Officer – $70,000

This position will conduct a tourism asset inventory and database of tourism businesses operating within the Mowachat and Muchalaht First Nations territories, Tahsis and Gold River. Information collected will be used to identify gaps in services that the Nations could capitalize upon for their communities and establish new tourism hotspots. This role will liaise with the GIS Tech to establish a set of maps showcasing outdoor adventure spots and cultural and historic sites. They will work on developing unified and robust marketing materials and plans.

‘Namgis Business Development Corporation: General Manager – $70,000

The general manager will engage in new business development as it relates to the strategic growth of the ‘Namgis Business Development Corporation. The manager will work with the ‘Namgis First Nation to build a new micro-entrepreneur program to advise, support, and guide ‘Namgis members as they develop their small business ideas.

Port McNeill & District Chamber of Commerce: Rural Business Advisor Program Manager – $70,000

The rural business advisor program manager will be involved in community engagement and evaluation phases with stakeholders, First Nations, and partner outreach and assessment. They will pursue web and marketing upgrades, education, support, facilitation of meetings, events and connections. The final phase will be dedicated to continuing engagement, building resources, succession and staff planning.

Quatsino First Nations: Community Advisor – $70,000

The economic advisor will provide a range of services to support local Quatsino businesses and promote economic development while also promoting equity, environmental values, and cultural knowledge. The advisor will create a comprehensive economic development plan for the community that considers the region’s unique strengths and challenges.

Ts’uubaa-asatx First Nation: Economic Development Community-Based Advisor – $70,000

This position will use the 2022-27 Ts’uubaa-asatx’s Strategic plan (Weaving the Future) to help compile a list of viable projects and recommendations to the Nation’s leadership. The advisor will engage with local governments in their territory to establish common themes in each strategic plan and identify opportunities on the lands to diversify the local economy. They will also work with neighbouring communities on initiatives to strengthen the region’s economy and host an economic summit in the Cowichan Lake area.

Uchucklesaht Tribe Government: Natural Resources Opportunities Advisor – $70,000

The natural resources opportunities advisor will be responsible for the identification of non-timber forest product opportunities, examining natural resource commercial opportunities, and contributing and implementing the trails plan. They will also develop a non-timber forest products inventory and commercial opportunities study. Their work will contribute to the completion of the Uchucklesaht Trails Plan.

Village of Alert Bay and the Town of Port McNeill: Economic Development Officer – $70,000

This is a shared position between the Village of Alert Bay and the Town of Port McNeill. In Alert Bay, the economic development officer will work to attract and support new businesses, create a business association, diversify and expand the local economy, and provide mentorship and workshops to new and young entrepreneurs. In Port McNeill, this new position will advance downtown waterfront planning phase and community revitalization plan, update the strategic economic development plan, and act as the point of contact for all economic development inquiries.

Village of Gold River: Economic Development Officer – $70,000

The economic development officer will conduct interviews with all 119 businesses in Gold River to offer support, update information, and review opportunities. They will work with the Healthy Families and Community Committee to support council’s objectives and oversee the Tourism Information Centre to ensure their goals align with those of Destination BC (increase socials, update information, full summer operations).

Village of Port Alice: Business Advisor – $70,000

The business advisor will provide advisory services to Port Alices’ new and long-standing businesses. These services may include helping with grant applications through new funding programs designed to assist with forestry transition, business expansion, retention advice, referrals for loan assistance, land disposition information and more. The advisor will also create an information package of regional supports for businesses.

Village of Sayward: Sayward Economic Development Coordinator – $70,000

The economic development coordinator will work with the Village’s elected leadership, staff, community groups and industry to identify and promote development and diversification opportunities in the Village of Sayward. This includes conducting a local business audit, establishing a joint economic development advisory team, and developing content for a one-stop shop “business and development” webpage for the Village.

Village of Tahsis: Rural Business Advisor – $70,000

The rural business advisor will work with local businesses to position Tahsis as a premier ecotourism destination. They will carry out an assessment through interviews with Tahsis’ 25 businesses to assess capacity and needs across key areas. The advisor will help identify a best-fit supports for each local business by providing direct, one-on-one supports and evaluations in the areas of business planning, finance, digital technology, e-commerce, and marketing.

WorkLink Employment Society: Community Economic Development Manager – $42,000

The community economic development manager will focus on ongoing community engagement and consultation to develop, implement, and maintain an economic diversification strategy for Port Renfrew and its surrounding area. The manager will also lead the implementation of strategy in partnership with the Port Renfrew Economic Development Task Force and Pacheedaht First Nation. They will advocate for the community’s infrastructure and affordable housing development opportunities, as well as operate the Visitor Information Center in collaboration with the Pacheedaht First Nation.