Published On: Tuesday, 06 June 2017

New Export Support For Summerland Businesses

New Export Support For Summerland Businesses

- Christine Petkau is Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland. She can be reached at

SUMMERLAND - Recently I had the opportunity to talk to one of our Summerland business members about their experiences attending an international trade show with the goal of exporting their locally made products. The words exhilarating and frustrating probably summed it up best. 

For BC businesses, export opportunities are tremendous but navigating the maze of bureaucracy and regulation to get their products and services to markets (either to another country or sometimes even to another province) can be daunting.  

In the past couple of years the Province of BC has been listening to and working with small business to learn more about their export needs.  Like our local business member, they’ve identified the confusing export landscape, limited awareness of the existing supports and service gaps as some of the challenges. 

BC businesses said they needed easy to access, tailored services for business needs, a logical plan of action that could be followed for exporting, and support across the entire export pathway.

To respond to these needs Small Business BC has created a pilot project called The Export Navigator Pilot. In the Okanagan region this service is being delivered by Business Service Advisors based at Community Futures North Okanagan in Vernon.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop about the pilot hosted at Community Futures South Okanagan Similkameen in Penticton. One of the Advisors, Connie Viszlai, from the Vernon office, explained how the program works. With support from her or other Advisors, a small business can work their way through four specific stages for the best chances of export success.  These stages are called the Export Pathway.

In the first stage, Awareness, a business will go through a guided assessment to determine if they are ready to export, build an international network and complete a business plan or business expansion plan.  In stage 2, Planning and Validation, a business will identify their market and develop export, financial and operational plans to support their export strategy.  Stage 3 is the Initial Market Entry and Stage 4 is Market Development and Growth.

The best part is that businesses can determine where they already are on the pathway and enter at the point that makes sense for them.  As well, the Business Advisors work with international experts located in the various markets.  They know who a small business needs to be connected to at any particular stage on the pathway and can make the appropriate referrals so a business can succeed.

I am looking forward to seeing how this pilot will help our business members who are interested in export.  For more information contact Connie Viszlai in the Community Futures North Okanagan (Vernon) office at