Community is good for business

Business Beat is a regular column by Mary Austin, Community Futures and LCCDTS board member.

Mary Austin is a regular contributor to the Trail Times with her Business Beat column.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Imagine what John Lennon would say listening to would-be presidential candidates who say that not paying taxes or fulfilling business contracts is “just business.” Or towards a Wall Street or Bay Street executive who treats the people affected by the in the subprime mortgage crisis, where millions of families lost their homes, as collateral damage on their road to another multi-million dollar bonus package? But what if we all approached our role in the economy, and our own daily business practices, as if people matter?

Local boy made good Don Freschi walks the walk. Through his many entrepreneurial ventures, and now as the GM of the Greater Trail Community Futures (CF), Don inspires great business values in potential entrepreneurs. His business philosophy is to build strong relationships with clients and staff members based on mutual respect and trust. He believes so firmly in our community’s future that, in tandem with running his own successful businesses, he took on a leadership role at CF to develop and promote great local businesses.

How did this start? Don, like many successful people, began with a supportive family. He credits his wife Denise with raising their two daughters while he started and grew Firebird Technologies and Sport Fishing On the Fly. He also credits the employees at his companies as his number one asset, counselling other entrepreneurs to choose the right employee, give them the tools and freedom to get the job done and then get out of their way. “Do not micro manage” is his mantra!

Following the sale of Firebird, Don wanted to give back to the community that had been so supportive of his dreams. He found his calling as the Executive Director for Community Futures (CF) of Greater Trail. Don loves to share how he found work/life balance in the Kootenays, and encourages others to create great businesses through strong relationships with their customers. He believes in CF’s vision of fostering local entrepreneurs through all phases of business from start-up to expansion.

What would Don consider the key successes of Community Futures since he took the helm in 2013? Along with Community Futures core mandate to provide entrepreneurial training, business advice, start-up and expansion loans, Don takes great pride in programs such as the Dragon’s Den competition for young entrepreneurs. He and the Community Futures of Greater Trail team also played a key role in the creation of the recently opened Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration Studies (MIDAS) business incubator in Trail. These programs and spaces provide essential infrastructure for future entrepreneurship.

How could Don’s expertise help you to start a business? Don recommends visiting the Trail Community Futures office located above the Post Office in downtown Trail to speak with their friendly and knowledgeable team. You can also check out their Facebook Page to see Don’s short “Coffee Talk” videos. They outline the initial steps to starting a business such as “Creating a Business Plan” and much more.

Don is a great example of the progressive role business can and should play in our community. He hopes you take a moment to explore Community Future’s useful business resources. Then, take the plunge on your own journey to create a positive business we can all believe in.

Mary Austin is an active Board Member for both Community Futures and the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS). She is the Chair of the Lower Columbia Tech Club and the Lower Columbia Women’s Business Club. She is also co-owner of Austin Engineer Ltd. and feels fortunate everyday to be able to live and work with her family in this community.

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