Local Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program participants (from left) Jesse WIllicome

Local Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program participants (from left) Jesse WIllicome

Three enterprises didn’t receive popular vote in Creston entrepreneurship accelerator program

Web Lead

Four potential enterprises took part in the Local Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (LEAP) offered through a partnership between Kootenay Employment Services and Simon Fraser University.

On June 10, the participants pitched to about 75 guests, who voted Honeybird Coffee Roasters to receive a prize that included cash from tickets sales, an iPad donated by Telus and a Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce membership. The three that didn’t receive the popular vote were:


Jesse Willicome, Hearth and Coathook

With no affordable long-term accommodation in the Creston Valley, Jesse Willicome pitched Hearth and Coathook, a boutique hostel for which he needs space. He currently rents out rooms and the valley is a popular destination.

“I’m of the opinion that ‘build it and they will come,’ ” he said. “I’ve been overwhelmed and had to turn people away.”

His concept includes both private and dormitory room, with bike and equipment rentals, and possibly a café or lounge.

“It’s sort of a grown up hostel,” he said.

As for the name, “hearth” brings to mind a warm place to return to and “coathook” inspires adventure — “Grab your jacket on the way out the door.”


Melissa Flint, Natural Ecosystem Design

Many people feel they’re working against nature to maintain their yards, but natural ecosystem design would change that. Melissa Flint, who manages the greenhouses at the college, designs edible, sustainable landscapes with family and community needs in mind.

“I design abundance,” she said. “Good design takes care of the Earth and takes care of the people.”

She could help clients ease into food gardening by, for example, placing herbs close enough to the door “you can walk out in your fuzzy bunny slippers.”

“We do live in an abundant valley, but we need to start at our back doors,” she said.


Clayton Fenrick, Harvest Share

The Creston Valley Food Action Coalition’s Harvest Share program sees volunteers pick fruit and vegetable, splitting the haul — over 38,000 pounds — between organizations, volunteers and owners.

But there are thousands of pounds of cull cherries that go to waste every year, and manager Clayton Fenrick pitched the idea of expansion, purchasing equipment to dry the cherries.

“For the most part, these culls are edible,” he said.

Harvest Share is sustained entirely on grant funding, and the drying operation would require startup capital, which would help to create a revenue stream for the program.