Recent History – 1999
May 6, 1999
By Kelly Henschel, Daily News Staff
The Kiwanis Enterprise Centre in Dawson Creek has once again been recognized for its outstanding entrepreneurship programs, receiving an honourable mention in Toronto at the national Royal Bank Partners in Education Awards for 1998 – 1999. The centre will be included in a best-practices book highlighting their special status.
The Enterprise Centre, established more than 10 years ago, came to be when the founders realized students faced with high local unemployment rates were leaving the area.
“The Enterprise Centre wanted to provide the training so these students could choose self-employment…it certainly wasn’t being offered in the schools at the time,” says Gloria Cleve, who wrote the report for the centre’s award application.
Presently the centre offers many programs and resources for individuals wishing to get involved in entrepreneurship as well as encouraging partnerships between government, businesses, community and schools to foster self-employment and small business opportunities.
The awards committee was “looking at how the schools partner with community organizations or businesses in order to enhance a student’s experience for real-world,” she says.
“It’s an honour to be recognized,” says Enterprise Centre director Mac Taylor. “It’s very positive. I think we’re seeing young people doing outstanding things in the community.”
“Basically the Enterprise Centre is a school- community enterprise,” says South Peace Secondary School principal Sandy McDowell.
The award was “something else that helps people maintain pride and enthusiasm for what they’re doing at the centre, particularly in a smaller community,” he says. “I think it’s great.”
At present about 30 – 40 South Peace students are registered in the entrepreneurship programs offered through the school.
Students learn how to start their own business from ground-up as well as learning independence, McDowell says.
“They learn a little bit about the attitude one needs to have when going into business.”
The centre has helped many small businesses start along the road to success. Vern Brisbin, owner of well-known Dawson Creek business Software Emporium, opened the down town store in 1994 after getting his start at the Enterprise Centre a year earlier.
After five months of business and entrepreneurship training through the centre’s New Venture Program, Brisbin was able to use resources at the centre to secure a loan as well as leasing office space to get started.
The centre guided him through the first months of business, he says, offering advice and guidance. “There was always someone around to talk to,” he says, adding that even now he still goes back from time to time.
“I constantly go back and ask them questions and look through their library of business books there whenever I’m struggling with some sort of business concerns,” Brisbin says.
Cleve says the centre has been encouraged to submit an application for the award again next year, the top prize being $1,000 and national recognition.