Nfld. & Labrador

Inuit business summit has already sparked a new idea in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

A summit for Labrador Inuit business operators is aiming to help entrepreneurs find opportunity in up-and-coming industries.

Making new connections can help with challenges of operating in small, remote communities, say entrepreneurs

The business summit runs from Feb. 19-21. (Nunatsiavut Economic Development/Facebook)

A day of chats and panels at a summit for Inuit business operators in Labrador had one well-known Upper Lake Melville entrepreneur inspired and ready to go.

"I'm ready to start a new business, so I'm all excited," said Hilda Broomfield-Letemplier, the president of Pressure Pipe Steel Fabrication. 

"I'm ready. I want to do something different."

The Nunatsiavut government's Business Summit, happening until Thursday at the Northern Cross Community Church in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, is aimed at helping business owners make inroads into emerging industries like tourism, said Kristy Sheppard, the Nunatsiavut government's director of economic development.

The summit is aimed at connecting Inuit business owners in Labrador with each other and with representatives from up-and-coming industries in the region. (Nunatsiavut Economic Development/Facebook)

She's also got a roster of representatives attending from major industry players in the area like Air Boreal, Destination Labrador and Raytheon to help local Inuit business operators build better connections.

"If your company has to ship something but you don't have a relationship with the shipping company, that could stall your development," she told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

"What we're seeing is a lot of networking, a lot of discussion between entrepreneurs as well as with the guests that we're bringing in. Everyone seems to be pretty excited about it."

Staffing can be a challenge

Leander Baikie, the general manager of CRB Automotive in North West River, says operating a business in small, remote communities in Labrador certainly has its challenges, especially when it comes to finding staff.

If someone like me can do it, anyone can do it.- Hilda Broomfield-Letemplier

He said he'd like to see more training offered, especially in things like accounting and business law.

"All these business things that we don't have access to," he said. "Just the training piece, just somebody to do your books."

"Even [to] teach you how to teach your people how to do the books," Broomfield-Letemplier chimed in.

Baikie said he'd also like to see more young people in business for themselves. Broomfield-Letemplier would like to help.

"I want to be a mentor. I want to show young people everywhere, especially Inuit women, Indigenous women, that if someone like me can do it, anyone can do it."

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