CBT offering summer wage subsidy program

Small businesses can apply for a wage subsidy to hire a summer high school or college student.

Elizabeth Lake Lodge utilized the CBT Summer Works wage subsidy program as part of their business plan.

Elizabeth Lake Lodge utilized the CBT Summer Works wage subsidy program as part of their business plan.

Applications will soon be open for small business owners to access a wage subsidy program from the Columbia Basin Trust that helps in the hiring of a student over the summer months.

Available on Feb. 19, the Summer Works Program is geared towards offering full-time jobs to high school and post-secondary students, with a $7 wage subsidy for entry-level jobs and $8 wage subsidy for career-related jobs.

Since 2010, Summer Works has created up to 150 student jobs each summer in the Basin, which has included positions at small businesses in Cranbrook, including  Maple Leaf Forestry Ltd, Sweet Gestures Chocolate Shoppe and The Nails Christian Bookstore.

George Freitag with Elizabeth Lake Lodge has utilized the Summer Works program for the last five years.

“We’ve got the mini golf and we’ve got the lodge,” said Freitag. “We were really interested in trying to expand a little bit through the summer, going with the Hawaiian shaved ice and then we expanded to ice cream and a whole sort of concession area.

“With the cost of wages and starting it up, it didn’t quite meet the budget needs, but the Summer Works program allowed us to hire a person and they paid 50 per cent of the wage. It allowed us two years to get the word out and expanded and increased the hours year to year and now it’s really an integral part of our operation.”

The Summer Works program is administered by the College of the Rockies and works very closely with businesses around the region who may not have the financial resources to hire students without the subsidy support.

“It’s allowed us to offer a further product for residents of Cranbrook, it’s allowed us over the five years we’ve been involved—in our case—to hire a Cranbrook college student,” added Freitag, “and really not only have her do that job, but we gave her the ability to design it, set it up, order, schedule, so it’s kind of her own mini-business that we gave her the reins for.

“So it worked out well for her and us.”

Freitag said the program is a big part of his business moving forward.

“We’re expanding and building a new wing this summer and trying some different areas with [a] fitness facility and so forth so we hope to incorporate the Summer Works program into some expanded services,” he said.

Application forms are available starting Feb. 19 and the CBT recommends small businesses to apply as soon as possible. For more information on the program, visit: cbt.org/summerworks2015