BDC Office Celebrates 55 Years in Thunder Bay
by Scott A. Sumner
Many years ago as a young person who had recently finished the Honours Bachelor of Commerce program at Lakehead University I got a job in business banking.That job was with the FBDB or Federal Business Development Bank which is now known as BDC! It was fun to sit down with John Guarasci, age 41, the Manager Business Centre Ontario North Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie to find out the Thunder Bay BDC has been open for 55 years.
55 years is a long time to be in Thunder Bay serving Northwestern Ontario?
“ It started as FBDB. The organization began with a need to support entrepreneurship in some way. The support has changed throughout the years. BDC had a big manufacturing focus at the beginning and things are changing with manufacturing still important but now with ICT- tech companies and innovation. I can see how much it has changed in the last 5 years, working here, with more focus on ICT, tech support, women entrepreneurs and indigenous groups for entrepreneurship. BDC is trying to cater to the change and be on the forefront in these areas.”
How did your career lead you to working at BDC?
“ I graduated in business from Brock University in St Catherines after doing my first year at Lakehead. My dad was interested in getting a franchise going here in Thunder Bay and we went down to Southern
Ontario and talked to a few franchises he was interested in. None of it went through but what happened was I realized what I wanted to do in business was work with entrepreneurs. I loved the process of looking at the market, the opportunity and the specialization of this entrepreneurship focus was at Brock.”
What is your goal at BDC?
“ BDC’s number one focus is supporting entrepreneurs. Our anniversary event recently was really celebrating 55 years helping entrepreneurs in the region. We’re not successful unless they are successful. Our anniversary was to recognize some success in the community.”
“We are a federal crown corporation with a mandate of supporting entrepreneurs and being complimentary with other financial institutions. We can provide financing. Our second part is advisory
services working with companies to get them the advice they need to be successful. It can be be from strategic planning, marketing, HR, financial management and being efficient and more innovative. Our
advisory group has a roster of consultants in different areas. Our support is behind the consultants. As a business centre we like to have workshops in the community and recently did an innovation seminar. In
Thunder Bay we have 4 account managers, a client relations officer and myself, as well as 2 account managers in Sault Ste Marie.”
What is your impression of the local economy?
“ I see our economic environment has a lot of change happening right now. The traditional business are still here but I am seeing more technology and software companies coming in. The university and college
are seeing growth in this area as well. For business here now it is not just about being local but how you reach new markets through the internet. This transition is happening.”
“ Change of ownership is happening where more people are looking to transition their business to new owners. BDC can help with this locally. We have a head office growth and transition division if it is
a larger transition.”
You can contact our office, we will connect you with an account manager and then see where we can help!”