COVID-19: North Okanagan businesses get a boost

Community Futures provides emergency loans

When Darren Bezanson had to shut down the seating inside his Armstrong restaurant due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, he knew who to call.

Worried about how he was going to pay his staff and suppliers, the owner and chef of Fairways Bistro and Catering contacted Scot McNair, Business Loans Advisor at Community Futures North Okanagan.

“I wanted to see if I could get extra funding and get my staff paid and bills up to date, and what the process of that was going to look like,” Bezanson says.

McNair was able to help Bezanson access funding through CFNO’s new Emergency Loans Relief Program, which assists businesses in getting through the COVID-19 economic slowdown with business loans of up to $25,000.

With flexible terms and payment schedules, CFNO’s Emergency Loan Relief Program is different from the Canadian government’s emergency business loans program, says McNair. While the government program is interest-free, it has several requirements that some businesses can’t meet, including a minimum $20,000 payroll.

“The Community Futures program offers interest and payment-free loans for the first 90 days to help businesses get through the initial period and to a place where they can start back up again. The interest rate remains low for the remainder of the payback period. It’s a good fit for anyone who needs a bit of flexibility.”

Having received support and services from CFNO since he opened his business six years ago, Bezanson says CFNO’s Emergency Loan Relief couldn’t have come at a better time.

“There was no hesitation. The turnaround time to receive the funds took less than a week. Scot stepped right up and went to bat for us. The loan has allowed for us to continue to function and stay afloat,” says Bezanson.

While reopening his restaurant to public seating may take a while, Bezanson has been able to continue a takeout food and beverage service as well as a delivery service, thanks also to support from the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

“Having business support and organizations such as Community Futures that have your back has been a huge load off,” he says.

CFNO is also helping small businesses navigate COVID-19 with support services such as virtual regional roundtables through #NOKTogether, as well as with one-to-one telephone or virtual meetings for business coaching and advice, and updated resources and information through its social media channels.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Online roundtable sessions to help North Okanagan businesses

For more information or to inquire about Community Futures North Okanagan’s Emergency Loan Relief Fund, contact Scot McNair at ­­­­250-545-2215 Ext. 249 or fill out the form available at

READ MORE: Community Futures steps up online services for Vernon job seekers


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