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Houston business wins start-up award at regional district business forum

More than 120 businesses from around northern B.C. attended the two-day conference in Telkwa
Over 120 businesses, governmental officials and speakers attended the Bulkley-Nechako Business Forum held in Telkwa over March 28 and 29. (Deb Meissner photo).

The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako’s (RDBN) Start-Up Business of the Year is the Palisades Café in Houston.

This new café serves “artisan, organic, locally produced, daily offerings of quality food, clean treats and quality coffee and tea-based beverages, all from local vendors and producers.”

The $2,500 cash prize was handed out to Palisades owner Elizabeth Watson at the gala dinner that wrapped up the RDBN Regional Business Forum held in Telkwa March 28 and 29.

“This was a huge honour for our business to win, and each of these businesses to be chosen for bringing such value to our areas in what they do,” said Watson. “We are very grateful for the exposure through the RDBN Business Forum and to our many loyal customers.”

Palisades beat out five other finalists, who all gave enthusiastic presentations, of their new businesses and the vision they have for the roles they play in their individual communities during the forum.

The finalists were Arcade Party Rentals based in Burns Lake, but serving the area from Smithers to Prince George; the Klassen Cabin, which is a poultry farm in Fraser Lake; Mixers Bar & Lounge in Houston; Crossroads Cannabis, which is run by local women with a First Nations partnership; and Freespace Solutions, a professionally certified organizational specialist in Smithers.

Each business was awarded a $1,000 business package for being finalists.

Over 120 business owners, government officials, and major industry stakeholders from as far away as Vancouver, Prince George and Terrace to attend, the two-day event, with the theme: Growing Together, Building a Sustainable Future.

The goal of the forum, which has not been held in four years, was to give business owners, industry, economic developers, First Nations organizations, educators and non-profit organizations from across northern B.C. the opportunity to learn about the industries and innovations which have contributed to the economic development of the region.

Over the two days there were keynote speakers covering topics from economic investment in northern B.C. to what reconciliation means for business leaders in the communities they serve to strategies for increasing profits of individual businesses.

There were also panel discussions covering a myriad of topics from training in post-secondary and future skills needed for the workforce to effective marketing, as well as, an agricultural panel on the regional food system and challenges posed in a complex system of transportation, distance and cost.

To wrap up the forum, there was an industry panel of leading economic contributors including Natasha Westover from Coastal GasLink, Josh Hoffman from West Fraser Timber and Val Erickson with Melissa Barcelo from Artemis Gold/Blackwater Mine, all of who spoke about the contributions to local economies now and coming in the future.

In the case of Artemis and the Blackwater Mine, which is in the start-up phase after receiving their environmental assessment approval, the representatives promised they will be providing jobs in the mine and for contractors across the north for at least 22 years once the mine goes into production.

Leroy Dekens, mayor of the Village of Telkwa was very pleased with the conference, and the attendance it brought to the Telkwa area.

“This was very a very successful event and a huge boost in business and visibility for Telkwa,” Dekens said.

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The evening of the March 28 at the Regional Business Forum featured a gala event including awards, dinner and music at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
Winner of the RDBN Startup Business Contest for 2023 was The Palisades Cafe from Houston. Owner, Elizabeth Watson thanks the judges and congratulates the other business owners for being finalists and valued businesses to our region. (Deb Meissner photo)
Winner of the RDBN Startup Business Contest for 2023 was The Palisades Cafe from Houston. Owner, Elizabeth Watson pictured in middle. (Deb Meissner photo)
Grant Harris, Publisher for the Smithers Interior News represents Black Press, sponsor for the 2023 Regional Business Forum, thanks all those taking part in the two day Forum, during the dinner Gala, held Mar. 28, at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
Natasha Westover and Tanner Moulton from Coastal GasLink, a major sponsor of the two day forum. (Deb Meissner photo)
David Harris, owner of Bulkley Valley Brewery in Smithers was part of the Entrepreneur Panel, March 29 in Telkwa, at the 2023 Regional Business Forum. (Deb Meissner photo)