Community Futures Highwood wants to see funding increase for the Community Futures Program so they can continue to support small businesses.

Funding for the program, which helps to give loans to small businesses, was frozen about 12 years ago when the federal government was looking to reduce costs. Community Futures Highwood is hoping to see that funding restored and modernized.

John Lockhart, General Manager of Community Futures Highwood, says they're trying to work with the current government to find a way to fund and modernize the program from its inception in 1986.

"Over those 12 years as we all know, especially in Alberta, the cost have living has gone up substantially and so overhead costs for this program, what rent or leases would've cost 12 years ago, are no where near what they are today so those costs to run the program have gone up but the funding hasn't so we've had to make internal adjustments."

According to Lockhart, the program has created opportunities for over 125,000 small businesses through loans and dispersed over $4.8 billion dollars in loans to those businesses that might not be supported by traditional banks. These same businesses have turned around and invested over $1.2 billion back into local economies.

He says there's not a lot of options available to them if they don't receive more funding to help bring it up to speed.

"If we don't get further funding then we'll have to look at one of two things," Lockhart explains. "One is of course the option none of us want which is to let the program die a natural death, or the other thing is to restructure how we can continue to provide the services we do."

To learn more about the Community Futures Program and view the petition click here.

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