What started off as a pilot project between Kootenay Employment Services and Simon Fraser University has grown into Creston’s most successful startup launch program.

The Local Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (LEAP) Barnraiser event featured eight local entrepreneurs in a sold out gala, April 3 at Casey’s Community House.

LEAP Coordinator Amber McGregor says the model exemplifies Creston’s culture and values.

“We wanted it to be an example,” McGregor explains. “What does it look like? What kind of business culture do we want in the Creston Valley? We don’t do business in boardrooms. We don’t do business at offices. We do them at campfires, at coffee shops, in the back rooms.”

The entrepreneurs underwent an 11 week process learning the “lean business model” through Kootenay Employment Services. McGregor says the Province covers the cost.

“They cover the costs of entrepreneurs going through this. It’s a team effort where we still work with Community Futures, who has a program, so they usually work with people that are eligible through [Employment Insurance]. This program is designed to support people either not eligible for EI or does not fit to go into that program.”

The $1,000 People’s Choice Award, voted online by each of the 170 ticket holders, went to Rick Brown and his Performance and Visual Arts Society. Below are the “winners” of the gala. Prizes were assembled by local businesses and paid for at cost with ticket profits.

The next round of LEAP begins on April 17, 2019 and KES is accepting applications. If interested call Amber McGregor at 250-428-5655 or by e-mail at am@kes.bc.ca

Link for more information:  https://kes.bc.ca/CMS2/programs/leap


Winner of the $1000 Grand Prize: Rick Brown. Venue + Performance and Visual Arts Society



Winner for Passion: Yvonne De Laive Mindset Habits, Life coach and author

Winner for Authenticity: Esmeric Art, featuring unleaded pewter material)

Winner for Knowledge and Expertise: Tara Hubbard Mehrer. Mountain Valley Doula, childbirth education