Kootenay Association for Science and Technology's Tech Resiliency Program, one of the ways they provide free help to Kootenay businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo submitted.

KAST helps Kootenay businesses navigate into digital realms amid pandemic

Kootenay Association for Science and Technology provide one-on-one help for free

Since the onset of the pandemic, countless businesses have had to transition their operations into a more digital realm and the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) has helped many businesses in the area with that process, free of charge.

According to a press release, KAST partnering with the BC Tech Association enabled them to provide one-on-one support to non-tech businesses in the Kootenays for free.

They held their first Virtual Connection Day in May, 2020 and due to the high level of interest, they offered four more in July, September, October and January.

They then also partnered with Basin Business Advisors, Columbia Basin Trust and Community Futures Central Kootenay to further expand the region throughout the region. Businesses were able to apply to these Virtual Connection Days to get free one-on-one mentorship with a tech expert, to guide them through fields such as digital marketing, ecommerce, working remotely and cybersecurity.

Businesses were able to learn new tools they could employ to ensure they could navigate successfully through the COVID-19 pandemic from tech experts, many of whom have backgrounds as tech consultants or digital service providers.

For example, these experts provided insight on how to reach customers or maintain business revenue.

“This was the first step of many in KAST helping Kootenay businesses overcome challenges due to COVID-19,” said Sean Smillie, Executive Director of KAST. “Holding Virtual Connection Days with our partners is a great example of how we can work together as a community to build resilience, help local businesses with digital transformation and benefit the entire Kootenay economy. This is just one of many initiatives KAST has taken on to support both our non-tech and tech businesses locally.”

In September, 2020 KAST further developed their program by launching the Digital Economy: Rapid Response and Resiliency (DER3) Program, developed by Innovate BC and funded by Western Economic Diversification.

This program has helped 231 small to medium-sized businesses, from a wide range of sectors, to either enter or expand in the digital economy.

KAST said the DER3 program has helped Kootenay businesses shift their approaches to be more profitable, expand into new markets, tackle new opportunities and respond to the many complex challenges presented by COVID-19.

“It was important for KAST to pull together a team that could relate to, and fully understand, the unique challenges businesses in our region are facing,” Smillie said.

“Rural communities face very different challenges than major centres, especially when it comes to digital transformation. It was critical that our local Virtual Connection Day service providers and our DER3 and Tech Resiliency Program contractors could relate to the people they’re helping. Locals helping locals is the ecosystem we were after and we are thrilled it was successful.”

The Tech Resiliency Program was designed specifically for Kootenay tech startups and companies that were impacted by the pandemic. Again, theses businesses were able to get intimate coaching in the specific areas they most needed guidance with.

According to the release, businesses most sought help in five main areas: websites, digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), business strategy and back of office systems or bookkeeping.

You can learn more about KAST at www.kast.com



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The East Kootenay Network of People Who Use Drugs is organizing a march to city hall on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, starting at 11 a.m. from the ANKORS office. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Advocates to march for overdose awareness, calls for action

B.C. declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency five years ago

Deer will often eat fruit that has fallen from fruit trees. The City’s bylaw states that residents must keep their yards free from fallen fruit. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Time to manage wildlife attractants, says City of Cranbrook

City reminds residents to keep yards free of fruit, pet food, food waste

Zeth Kindrachuk is pictured in action against the Trail Smoke Eaters in the Penticton pod, Saturday, April 10. Jack Murray photo
Bucks drop two to pod rivals

Cranbrook getting to know Penticton Vees, Trail Smoke Eaters, very well indeed.

TC Energy donated $2,000 to Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services to be used towards the purchase of footwear for wildland firefighting situations. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
TC Energy donates $2,000 towards specialized fire department gear

Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services is the recipient of a $2,000 grant… Continue reading

The KEYSA  Mr. Mike's Junior Players of the Week were Molly Cain and Avery Swain (pictured with Coach Rob Niedermayer).
KEYSA Players of the Week and team standings

League finals set for next week

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read