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We Are Looking for Board Members

Community Futures Highwood is seeking an enthusiastic and dedicated individual to join our Board of Directors!

As a Board member, you will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the economic development of Southern Alberta. CF Highwood provides loans, business training, and support services to entrepreneurs and small business owners in our communities. We are looking for an individual who is committed to helping local businesses thrive and grow.
Ideal candidates will have:
  • A passion for economic development and community building
  • Professional experience in finance, business, law, marketing, or a related field
  • Strong communication and leadership skills
  • A willingness to commit time and energy to attend meetings, training, and to provide support to our organization
As a member of our Board of Directors, you will have the opportunity to:
  • Help shape the strategic direction of the organization
  • Make a meaningful impact on local businesses and communities
  • Network with other business leaders
  • Develop your leadership and governance skills
Time Commitment
  • Commit 2-3 hours monthly for meetings with the exception of July, August, and December
  • Be able to commit additional time for training, strategic planning, meeting preparation
  • Respond to email communication in a timely manner
  • Attend the annual Community Futures Highwood AGM
If you are interested in becoming a Board Member, please reach out to our Executive Director Ursula Sherwood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Boost Your Business's Online Prescence for the 2023 Alberta Summer Games


Are you ready to ride the wave of visitors and excitement that the highly anticipated 2023 Alberta Summer Games will bring to the Okotoks and Diamond Valley communities this July? With an estimated 6,500 people expected to attend, it's time to ensure that your small business is ready to be found online. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with potential customers and maximize your business's visibility. Get ahead of the game and prepare your digital presence to make a lasting impression!

Discover these last-minute tips and tricks to ensure that your business can be easily found online by the influx of visitors during the 2023 Alberta Summer Games.

1. If you haven't already, set up a Google Business Profile:

Boost your business's online visibility by setting up a Google Business profile. This free and powerful tool allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. Fill out your profile with accurate and compelling information such as your business hours, address, phone number, website, and a captivating description of your offerings. By having a Google Business profile, you will increase your chances of being discovered by the many visitors flocking to the 2023 Alberta Summer Games that are searching for things to do in the area.


2. Optimize your social media account bios and location:

Take a few moments to optimize your social media account bios and location information. Craft persuasive and relevant descriptions that highlight your business's offerings. Showcase any special offers, promotions, or unique products/services that visitors might be interested in. Ensure your location is accurately marked, allowing potential customers to find you easily. By optimizing these key elements, you'll capture the attention of visitors searching for businesses like yours and entice them to choose you.

3. Update your action buttons on Facebook and Instagram:

Maximize customer engagement by updating the action buttons on your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Customize these buttons to guide visitors towards specific actions such as "Shop Now," "Book Now," "Contact Us," or "Learn More." Having these buttons prominently displayed on your profile pages, makes it effortless for potential customers to take the desired actions. By streamlining the user journey, you'll increase conversions and make it convenient for visitors to interact with your business during the bustling 2023 Alberta Summer Games.

4. Create relevant social media posts leading up to the event and use proper hashtags:

Generate buzz and capture the attention of both local and visiting audiences by creating relevant social media posts leading up to the 2023 Alberta Summer Games. Share exciting updates about your business's involvement, any special event-related offerings, or behind-the-scenes sneak peeks. Incorporate captivating visuals and compelling captions that convey the excitement and value your business brings to the event. Don't forget to include proper event-related hashtags, such as #ABSummerGames2023 or #SummerGames, to expand your reach and tap into the event's online conversations. By leveraging social media strategically, you'll spark interest and curiosity among potential customers, driving them to your business during this exciting time.

5. Don't forget to tag your location when posting on social media:

When sharing posts related to the 2023 Alberta Summer Games on social media, don't overlook the importance of tagging your location. By tagging the event's specific locations, venues, or even the host Towns of Okotoks and Diamond Valley, you'll increase the visibility of your posts to those who are exploring or searching for content in those areas. This simple step helps your posts appear in location-specific feeds and increases the chances of reaching potential customers who are attending or following the event. Be sure to include relevant hashtags along with the location tag to maximize the discoverability of your posts and drive targeted traffic to your business.

With the 2023 Alberta Summer Games just around the corner, it's crucial for small business owners to seize the opportunity to get found online by the influx of visitors and drive traffic to their establishments. By implementing these last-minute tips and tricks, you can enhance your digital presence and maximize your business's visibility during this exciting event.

If you are looking for assistance with any of the tips above, you can access FREE 1-on-1 digital support form our DSS team! Sign up today at

Business Life of Husband and Wife Podcast - How to Create Content for Organic Growth

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Natasha, our Digital Service Squad member, was featured on Season 2 Episode 4 of the Business Life of Husband and Wife Podcast!


On the podcast Natasha discusses tips and tricks for creating content for organic growth. Her passion for helping small businesses drives Natasha; she joined the Community Futures Highwood team to help business owners in the community develop and implement practical digital tools to generate brand awareness and consumer engagement.


You can stream Natasha's episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Castro, and YouTube! Visit the Business Life of Husband and Wife Website to listen in!

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Awards

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Community Futures Highwood had the honour of celebrating 4 members of our community with the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medals last night!

These commemorative medals are a tangible way to honour and acknowledge the significant contributions of individuals to our community.

A huge congratulations to our medal recipients Judy McMillan-Evans, Pamela Morgan, Orvella Small, and Verna Staples!

Marketing Tools for Business Owners

There are many affordable marketing tools that small business owners can use to level up their promotions! We have compiled a list of some of these tools that you can try to improve your marketing and brand image.



If you haven’t already heard of it before, Canva is a free web-based design tool that you can use to make absolutely anything. They provide tons of free templates to give you inspiration, and also offer the option to design something from scratch. With templates for logos, social media, documents, prints and more you can’t go wrong with this amazing website! Canava offers free tutorials and courses that teach you everything from how to use the platform, branding, design and marketing.


Cell Phone

Often the best tool for the job is one that you already have at your disposal, with technology constantly evolving, iPhones have become a great way to capture photos and videos for marketing. iPhones have made it easy to instantly point and shoot when an opportunity arises, but also allows for further utilization of the device to take stunning product photos. You can also elevate this tool using some of the other tools outlined below.


Ring Light

Ring lights serve as a complementary tool to your iPhone (or camera) by lessening shadows and diffusing light evenly across its subjects and elevates your look. If you are currently taking your own marketing photos, you know how hard it can be to find the right lighting without your shadow cast over your subject. There are many different kind of ring lights that you can utilize, including ones that clip on to your phone or computer, ones with built in stand and tripods. All are great options, depending on what you intend to use them for. Here are two that we found on Amazon:

Ring light with tripod stand

Clip on ring light



If you don’t get a ring light, we would suggest getting a tripod to start as it is a great way for you to go hands free when you are taking photos as they usually come with a Bluetooth remote you can use to capture images. This makes the process so much easier and allows you the freedom to rearrange items that are in frame! Here is one we found on Amazon:

60-inch tripod



The last item on our list can make the biggest difference, using a backdrop which may seem like such a small detail to some can completely transform your images. Consistency across product photos helps to elevate your branding and make your brand recognizable. The backdrops we have included in this article are plain white ones (and we have included a tablecloth as well because it is more affordable, and everyone has to start somewhere, right?) but feel free to opt for something that aligns most with your brand! You can switch it up for something that is hot pink, marble or even iridescent if that is more your style.

10x12 foot backdrop

Waterproof tablecloth

5 Types of Softwares all Business Need

Software programs are incredibly useful tools to help support your business. Below we have listed five types of software, as well as our suggestions. We are in no way affiliated with the companies listed below, and strongly suggest that you conduct your own research and use your discretion before committing to any one software.


  1. Accounting/Bookkeeping Software

Accounting software can ease the pressure that small business accounting usually brings. You can issue repeat invoices, send reminders to your clients and customers, and create profiles for them as well. Accounting software have the capability of generating reports to keep you on top of your cash flow, income and expenses. Having an accounting software can save you time on manually sending out payroll and allows for a streamlined process of managing your business’ finances.


We suggest Intuit QuickBooks

Why? QuickBooks makes keeping track of tasks, upcoming invoicing, and streamlining accounting activities simple and seamless. Not only is the program easy to use, but it is also relatively cheap in comparison to competing accounting software. QuickBooks is an extremely reliable software and works well with other software as well (such as many CRMs).


  1. Customer Relations Management (CRM) Software

If you deal with customers on a regular basis, you probably need a CRM software. CRMs help you manage and retain relationships with your customers and clients. CRMs will store contact data for your customers and keep them in one easy-to-use space. You can track where your customer came from, their transactions, and interactions. Understanding your customers buying habits and needs is essential to customer retention.


We suggest HubSpot

Why? HubSpot is extremely flexible when it comes to customization. You can create cohesive Calls-To-Actions for customers, keep their data stored in a secure place, and monitor actions that your customers make. HubSpot’s usability is another bonus, it is seamless and comprehensive. You can track where your customers are coming from before they even make a purchase! How much does it cost?


  1. eCommerce Software

Having an eCommerce website is a cost-efficient option when selling products online. Having your own eCommerce website can either supplement your brick-and-mortar store or allow you to sell without having to be a storefront! With low costs, eCommerce sites will also allow business owners to track where their customers are coming from, customer key demographics, and give you informative data on how your products are performing.


We suggest Shopify

Why? Shopify is perfect for an all-in-one streamlined eCommerce website builder. Shopify offers a wide variety of widgets and web plug ins to help support your sales efforts. Shopify offers a built-in web builder, CRM capabilities, and marketing tools.


  1. Email Marketing Software

Email marketing gives businesses the opportunity to stay connected to their customers while sharing key information on the services and products they are offering. Creating clean email campaigns creates credibility and can lead to more leads. The majority of email marketing software packages allow you to track important data, so that you can understand the attitudes, behaviours, and characteristics of your customers.


We suggest MailChimp

Why? MailChimp allows users to send seamless and high-quality emails to up to 2,000 customers for free. MailChimp allows you to customize campaign designs and has an easy drag and drop design center.


  1. Document Management Software

Document management software allows you to digitize existing paperwork and store digital files in one place. Having a good document software removes the need for endless filing cabinets and keeps all your important information in one cohesive area. Having a good software is also beneficial if you have employees or a team to work with and share information with. Organize your digital documents takes away the pressure of manually filing.


We suggest G-Suite

Why? Google’s free cloud-based document management software is a great option for small business owners. Through G-Suite you can share documents through Google Docs, create presentations through Google Slides, and create seamless shared spreadsheets through Google Sheets. G-Suite allows you to share documents with people within and outside of your company.

Digital Service Squad News Release

Digital economy program coming to southern Alberta

OKOTOKS Alta, (Jan. 12, 2022) – As one of the agencies delivering the Alberta Digital Economy Program (DEP), Community Futures Highwood (CFH) is looking for local small businesses looking to advance in the digital economy free of charge. Whether you are a small business owner starting to move from ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘clicks and mortar’ or seeking help with growing your online marketing outreach, CFH is available to assist you in transforming your digital presence.

The DEP initiative is a part of Alberta’s Economic Recovery Plan and is designed to support the recovery of small businesses by providing free support with digital marketing and e-commerce. By offering one-on-one digital assistance tailored to the unique needs of each business, CFH’s Digital Service Squad (DSS) is there to assist businesses thrive throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pressures and demands on local small businesses during the last 22 months, have been unprecedented. They have not just taken an economic toll but have also affected business owners on a very personal level. From the constant need to pivot and adjust their business model to staffing challenges and an increasingly challenging business climate it takes a lot to still be in business. With that in mind it is wonderful to be able to offer a hand up to these vital local businesses by providing another potential income stream or enhancement of an existing one, without having to charge for the service and create further stress. We hope to be able to work with a wide range of businesses – from those that have no website/social media presence or e-commerce capability, to those who have a digital presence, but want to fine-tune it,” says CFH Executive Director, Ursula Sherwood.
Applications for the DEP are open and will remain open until March 2023. To be considered for the program, head to to sign up and complete the initial digital assessment or contact CFH for more information and to set up a meeting.

About Community Futures Highwood

Community Futures Highwood is a non-profit organization with over 30 years’ experience supporting and assisting rural entrepreneurs with business solutions and investment in community economic growth within our region. For more information, visit our website

Want to Do Business with Government?

You are invited to our Procurement series

Session SEVEN:

Want to do Business with Government?

Business Funding and Support Programs

Now that you have the information to work with the Government... Lets find the Funding and Support!

What do you need to do?

What do you need to know?

This webinar provides information on:

IDEaS Program – Kris Ruiter

The DND IDEaS program is a $1.6B program to solve defense and security challenges for Department of National Defense.

Innovation Canada – Karla Peterson

From funding to expert advice to driving new collaborations, our flagship programs and services are designed to help businesses innovate, create jobs, and grow Canada's economy.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office – Marnie Fyten

Learn: Roadmap process to trademarks and get all your questions answered

Cyber Secure Canada – Nigel Russell

Introduction to Cyber security Environment. Understanding in the key to success.

Canada Revenue Agency SR&ED – Sameet Wasson

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program continues to support businesses conducting research and development in Canada,

Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada – Leah Gabretensae

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada facilitates the arrival of immigrants, provides protection to refugees, and offers programming to help newcomers settle in Canada.

News Release: Community Futures Highwood to Remain in Stockton Block Building

News Release
September 30, 2021

Community Futures Highwood to Remain in Stockton Block Building

Okotoks AB: After thoughtful consideration and recognizing the new market realities affecting businesses, amplified by the ongoing pandemic, the Community Futures Highwood (CFH) board have made the difficult decision not to move to the Arts and Learning Campus.

“The decision not to relocate was not an easy one, and certainly does not reflect the efforts of both the Town of Okotoks (Town) and CFH. The determination was made after reviewing the business case in light of the changing economic situation and ongoing impact of COVID-19,” said Ursula Sherwood, Executive Director of Community Futures Highwood.

“While we are disappointed that CFH is no longer able to be part of the Arts and Learning Campus, we completely understand and support their decision and wish them great success as they remain committed to serving our local business community,” said Jeff Greene, Town of Okotoks Community Growth & Sustainability Director. The Town will now seek tenants for the remaining space. For more information, please contact the Town at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CFH plays an integral role in supporting Okotoks and region businesses. The organization will continue to provide local entrepreneurs and businesses with access to programing, coaching and financing while remaining in the Stockton Block building. The building’s current lease between the Town and CFH will be renewed shortly.

Media contact:

Ursula Sherwood

Executive Director, Community Futures Highwood

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.       

403-995-4151 ext.4

Want to see your success story here?

Give us a call, send us an email, or drop in for a chat.

Contact Us

14 McRae Street
PO Box 1599
Okotoks, AB  T1S 1B5
P: 403-995-4151


Communities Served

Aldersyde, Blackie, Carmangay, Cayley, De Winton, Diamond Valley, Foothills County, High River, Kananaskis Improvement District, Lomond, Longview, MD of Willow Creek, Millarville, Milo, Mossleigh, Nanton, Okotoks, Priddis, Vulcan, and Vulcan County.