Refocusing after the flames

Michael Bednar Photography

Photo Credit: Michael Bednar Photography

Northern Development adapts program requirements in response to the 2018 wildfire season

While B.C. endured its worst wildfire season in its history for the second consecutive year, Michael Bednar experienced pangs of uncertainty for the future of his livelihood. Bednar is the award-winning owner of Michael Bednar Photography, a photography business based in the Cariboo that leads photography tours and provides quality images to tourism organizations, post-secondary institutions, non-profits and other businesses.

“A big challenge for me, being a sole proprietor in a creative business, is to sit down and analyze what I’m trying to accomplish,” said Bednar. “Getting an outside consultant who knows my business really helped analyze and plan for the future. They identified strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities that helped me build my identity. Rebranding gave me the opportunity to identify and reach out to potential clients to share what I do and build new relationships.”

In 2018, Bednar learned about the wildfire recovery assistance Northern Development was offering through the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate. He successfully applied for a $5,569 grant that enabled him to hire an experienced consultant to review his business, provide coaching, develop a personalized marketing strategy and make insightful suggestions regarding sales and distribution of his photos.

Northern Development knew that many small businesses were struggling alongside Michael Bednar Photography as they faced an unexpected future as the smoke cleared. As a practical way to help business owners evaluate what the future of their business looked like, the Trust opened its Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program to an array of additional businesses that did not fit in the previous requirements. Prior to this adjustment, applicants had to be small and medium sized businesses engaged in manufacturing, innovative technologies, resource processing, transportation distribution and their first line suppliers for customized outsourced consulting services.

“Without the rebate, I absolutely would not have been able to hire the consultant,” said Bednar. “Especially with the fires, it had a big impact on me financially. It was absolutely beneficial. It helped me identify where the business is going. I now do videos and licensed drone work. The video equipment has already paid for itself with a few contracts.”

Photo Credit: Michael Bednar Photography

Bednar is an award-winning photographer, with accolades such as Best Photojournalism of the Decade by Asia Geographic, the Lucie Award for International People Photographer and the Northern Lights Award for Best Canadian Travel Photography.

While Bednar is an established and recognized photographer, the natural disasters of the past two years have challenged his business’s ability to flourish in the place he chooses to call home. Desiring to weather the storm and emerge stronger and more purposeful in his work, Bednar’s collaboration with a business analyst and coach has guided him to a clearer business path.

For local business owners, concern extended beyond their families’ immediate needs and included worrying about the future of their livelihood. Northern Development created another way to help business owners recover and move forward once the ash settled. The Competitiveness Consulting Rebate is open to eligible small businesses in the Cariboo region to December 31, 2019. Contact Northern Development to see if your affected business can apply.

Through this revised version of the program, 10 businesses had their applications accepted and Northern Development committed $103,988 for their projects. Applicants included a spa, pharmacy, resort, organic hop farm, First Nations owned general store and Bednar’s photography business.