Wednesday, 18 March 2015 13:26

Builder of southeast Alberta’s Community Futures Entre-Corp recognized for contributions by MHC

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Rick Derbyshire has seen and accomplished a lot.


A successful businessman and active member of not only Medicine Hat — directly and indirectly Derbyshire has contributed greatly to all of southeast Alberta’s economy.
For that, Derbyshire was named the Medicine Hat College’s Business Person of the Year and was honoured at the March 19 Connecting Business to Student networking banquet at the Medicine Hat Lodge (see related story on this page). He admitted to be surprised to having been chosen.
“I’m getting old,” said Derbyshire deadpanning jokingly. “I wondered if I fit the criteria but I guess I’ve been involved enough with enough businesses.”
That would be an understatement for a tireless worker. Derbyshire was raised in Lethbridge and received a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in 1970 before being hired by Russell and Needham Architects in Medicine Hat. 
He and other businessmen established a design-build construction form Contempora Properties in 1975. He then was in a variety of business including wholesale petroleum, bottled water and condominium projects. Besides all of his business involvements he was a contributor to groups such as the Kinsmen, Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce, Medicine Hat Rehabilitation Society (Redi) and was a founding member of the Community Foundation.
Derbyshire has also spent the past 27 years of his involvement with Community Futures Entre-Corp, including the last 20 as chair, which is based in Medicine Hat, but is far more a regional non-profit entity.
Led by Derbyshire, Entre-Corp’s basic goal is to provide services, management advice and the tools to help entrepreneurs and small businesses. One of 27 Community Futures projects in Alberta, Derbyshire and the staff and board of directors have helped communities within the County of Forty Mile, Cypress County and County of Newell.
According to its website, Entre-Corp is funded in western Canada by Western Economic Diversification Canada. Community Futures has been supporting small business and rural economic diversification since 1986. There are 27 Community Futures offices in rural communities throughout Alberta, and a total of 269 across the country.
Derbyshire says the Medicine Hat Entre-Corp is the largest in the province with the most clients and most loans handed out in Alberta.
Besides helping get many new businesses started and supplying information to existing businesses including training seminars, Entre-Corp has also contributed with doing the first study of of the U.S. border crossing issue, self employment work and establishing the first line of credit with a major municipality (City of Medicine Hat) for small businesses.
Derbyshire said they have helped 1,100 individuals or $30 million in 25 years while being able to garner $24 million in grants.
“That’s $54 million in business we have helped generate in southeast Alberta,” explains Derbyshire.
He gives the credit to the hard-working full-time staff as well as the board which consists of many people from across southeast Alberta including vice-chairs Vic Lutz and Pat Guist, both Bow Island business people, Gordon Reynolds (Mayor of Bow Island), Keith Crush (City of Medicine Hat) and Richard Oster, the reeve of Cypress County to name a few. Because they have so many different interests and are on the ground floor in their communities, they know what is needed to push the respective economies along.
“It’s very diverse and we  leave any (business) prejudices at home. We help entrepreneurs and they can see when there’s a need in their communities,” explains Derbyshire adding Entre-Corp has been know for its collective willingness to take risk.
“We keep politics out of it. No politics in Entre-Corp. We leave it all at home.”
Derbyshire says while they are ultimately funded by government a group such as Entre-Corp understands what the needs are for different communities andthus can steer financial help in the proper directions. Governments can be “too rigid” in their thinking and Entre-Corp in Medicine Hat “has been able to think outside the box.”
Derbyshire is hanging up the Entre-Corp briefcaseas chair in the early summer this year so this is a good acknowledgement of what he and the  group have accomplished. He also feels fortunate to have worked with much of the same staff for the past 28 years.
“We’ve been lucky,” said Derbyshire of his involvement with staff. “It’s different; you don’t go into business looking for awards ... but I’ve been very pleased with what we’ve done.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor