An all-in-one web based virtual queuing, people counting, and contact tracing solution is now available to Cowichan businesses at a subsidized cost. (Submitted)

An all-in-one web based virtual queuing, people counting, and contact tracing solution is now available to Cowichan businesses at a subsidized cost. (Submitted)

Business notes: Web-based solutions for businesses to meet social distancing protocols now available

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

An all-in-one web based virtual queuing, people counting, and contact tracing solution to meet social distancing protocols in the winter months is now available to Cowichan businesses at a subsidized cost.

Community Futures Cowichan, along with local chambers of commerce, business improvement associations, and Tourism Cowichan, have partnered with Kuusoft to provide local businesses access to the WAIT Queue Management System, considered the most cost-effective and safest way for retailers to automate lineups during COVID-19 with contact tracing built in.

The WAIT system automates business lineups and wait lists, therefore improving the customer experience while enhancing business performance.

This is an opportunity to implement the latest technology for a very small fee.

The project supports small businesses by covering the licensing cost and most of the messaging service for participating businesses.

Cathy Robertson, general manager of Community Futures Cowichan, said the customer-service sector in the Cowichan region is a significant player in the local economy.

She said that collectively, these food services, hospitality, retail and tourism businesses make up Cowichan’s “Main Street” of amenities and service providers that create the character and charm that are so valued in rural communities.

“Many of our smaller businesses just don’t have the time or the money to survive the pandemic on their own, so a number of local business agencies came together to see what resources we can access to assist the businesses,” Robertson said.

“Winter is coming and it will be cold out, so we wanted to find technology for our businesses to have for their customers to use to ensure they have a reserved spot and not have to wait outside. All the customers have to do is punch in a few things on their Smart phone and organize their shopping day.”

Robertson said that to support these business, Community Futures Cowichan assessed funding from Western Economic Diversifications Rural Opportunities Fund to help cover the cost for businesses who could benefit from using this technology.

“This project is a win-win,” she said.

“Businesses who are struggling because of COVID get the support they need and customers can safely and efficiently visit their favourite stores and service providers. Interested businesses should contact their local chamber of commerce or business improvement association for more details. It’s as easy as getting you a licence code to be a user. And you’ll be connected with the support team where they will get you up and running.”

To learn more check out the website www.kuusoft.com/wait/cowichan

••••

Economic Development Cowichan has partnered with business startup accelerator Innovation Island to host a two-day series that focuses on the technology sector, trends, and innovation opportunities in the Cowichan region.

How can technology help a regional and rural economy? How do we train for jobs that don’t yet exist? These are among the topics explored in the tech and entrepreneurial series being held in Cowichan on Nov. 26-27.

To kick off the series, an evening presentation called “Cowichan Talks Tech: How to Thrive in a World Disrupted?” will take place virtually on Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Innovation Island’s startup whisperer, Graham Truax, will lead a high-energy session to build excitement about where things are going.

“If you are a community or business leader, educator, student, entrepreneur or concerned citizen this talk is but a glimpse to the future of what’s coming,” said Barry O’Riordan, manager of Economic Development Cowichan.

“This will set up a full day of workshops directed towards tech entrepreneurs and those wanting to see what it takes to engage and succeed in this space.”

There will be two full-day workshops on Nov. 27.

The first, called Pitch and Present, clears the way on how to create a winning pitch that embodies your value proposition and seeds a mutually beneficial relationship with investors.

The second workshop, called Funding Sources for Startups and Businesses, will help participants understand what’s required and how to access government programs and angel investment groups.

For more information and to register for these events, visit www.ecdevcowichan.com.

••••

The elves at the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre are hosting a number of Christmas activities and events this year.

The Cowichan Christmas Advent includes 24 treats for 24 days, including a gift card for a local winery.

Like an advent calendar, this package is filled with individually wrapped and labelled items to be opened daily beginning Dec. 1 and continuing with a gift each day until Dec. 24, all at the cost of a latte a day, or $175 including taxes.

The 12 Days of Christmas Cowichan Deliciousness offers a 12 day delicious holiday countdown featuring Cowichan food items at a cost of $80 including taxes.

The visitor centre also has Custom Holiday Gift Baskets. People are invited to visit the facility and build their own gift basket of goodies, or let the elves know your budget and your recipient’s preferences and the elves will create and gift wrap a custom basket for you.

To ensure the CRVC elves have ample time to meet your gifting needs, the centre asks that orders be submitted at least 24 hours in advance.

“We have contact-free purchase and pick up options or free delivery between Herd Road and Mill Bay,” according to the website of the Cowichan Duncan Chamber of Commerce, which operates the centre.

“We also encourage you to visit the centre and have a browse for stocking stuffers or smaller goodies in our safe retail area. COVID protocols are in place.”

For more information or to place your order, call 250-746-4636.

••••

In other chamber news, the chamber’s AGM this year is now a virtual dinner meeting on Nov. 24.

The AGM portion will kick off at 6 p.m. with guest speaker MP Alistair MacGregor.

Participants are also asked to take part in online networking between 5:30 and 6 p.m., while supporting the chamber’s local food and beverage providers.

To register for the AGM, go to chamber@duncancc.bc.ca.

The chamber is also holding an online auction in support of the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre which will go live at noon on Nov. 20.

“We are still collecting donations so we can have a robust auction lot on our online platform,” a statement from the chamber said.

For more information, go to visitorinfo@duncancc.bc.ca or call 250-746-4636.

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