2010 Winners

Fort Frances | Private Sector

Angela Halvorsen

Angela Halvorsen

There is no specific training for a business investment officer. Sure, you can take counselling courses, but not everyone can truly see if someone has what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

After 10 years, Angela Halvorsen can.

“You can see that energy, that drive,” says the Rainy River Future Development Corporation business investment officer.

“You can tell what people are willing to do and how much effort they are willing to put into it.”

It’s a sixth sense that kicks in, but then again women tend to have it anyways. Halvorsen says some people tend to be initially skeptical of her expertise - that is, until they walk out the door with loads of information and a focus on their future.

“The rest of the world doesn’t have to see me working behind the scenes. It doesn’t matter to me. Giving them help is really what it is all about and that feels good to me.”

With a 67 per cent success rate in helping entrepreneurs open a business, Halvorsen says her office team of five beat the provincial standard of 50 per cent through one-on-one coaching and providing a support network for new business startups.

“There have been a few clients that have come and gone, but that is the norm in this business. However, those are excellent figures. We are doing all right.”

How many businesses has she helped? Almost 60 business loans were provided in 2009, and that doesn’t include the number of businesses that didn’t receive loans out of 1,800 contacts.

Sometimes people just need a push while others require information before branching out on their own. Halvorsen finds it rewarding when she is invited to a grand opening, or when a former client refers her new candidates.

“It seems the word is out there... if you are thinking of starting a business you need to see Angela,” she says.

Word of mouth is a big part of the business and this is where Halvorsen shines. She truly believes in networking and connecting with community organizations that can help move an idea, a project or person forward. She belongs in the Business Women’s Network, which is a “really amazing group. You need these contacts and you want to support these people,” she says, adding that they help with the charitable needs of the community through the year.

Halvorsen leads by example and doesn’t pretend to know everything. If she doesn’t know a particular answer, she’ll look it up and get back to the client the next day.
“The important thing is to be myself and provide the same assistance as I would if I was on the other side of the table.”

Sage words of advice from a woman who manages a $3.7–million budget. Halvorsen wants aspiring business owners to know, “you’re not out there on your own. There are people that can help you.”

Although there are personal mentors in each person’s life, there are also seasoned business people that can offer a world of advice. It comes from making mistakes and finding solutions and fledgling owners should ferret out some of these folks for wise counsel.

“Find out the tricks of the trade.”

Interestingly, women tend to be the start- up business entrepreneurs of the decade. And this is true in Halvorsen’s neck of the woods, just as it is across Canada.