2016 will be remembered as a challenging economic year for many.

Every day, we would hear of someone losing their job, not being able to make ends meet, or read statistics of lines at the food bank growing. Even though this is a reality for many families, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mike Korman, Town of Cochrane, Economic Development Manager, organized meetings in early 2016 for people who lost their jobs in the oil and gas industry and were seeking new innovative, creative ideas for creating financial stability. Cochranites have always been known for their entrepreneurial spirit and Korman says 2016 is proof of that.

"Cochanites are very resilient people, and we find a way to make it work.  I have faith that everyone will find what they are looking for in 2017."

Korman says even though some business owners reported business to be down by 30%, others say they had a strong year. He attributes that to businesses that took advantage of the tourist market, not depending on solely local markets, creating name recognition for their business, and having a marketing plan and being consistent in assuring that their business is known.  Korman says that people do not have to spend a great deal of money to do this, but do need to be creative when they are targeting their direct market.

Heidi Smyth, Smyth Art & Studio, Owner, decided to follow her passion of art, after her 15 year career in Emergency Health Services ended.  This gave her the courage to take the leap of faith and follow her lifelong dream of having her own art studio.

"When people walk into the space I want them to be inspired, and realize you CAN follow your dreams, no matter what the situation is."

Andy Hill, Springbank Lights Ltd, Owner, was laid off his oil and gas position that had him working overseas. He was at a loss of how to pay his bills and keep a roof over his family's head. Then, after seeing an old fire truck for sale, he dreamt up an idea everyone thought was crazy.  Originally he was using the truck to just hang Christmas lights on buildings and homes to make some extra money, but that quickly morphed into an all season business. He now does tree cutting, birthday parties, and lights for commercial buildings and show homes, all while going home to his family every single night.

Korman says the forecast for 2017 is looking stronger and says that the entrepreneurial drive is in full force and people can take full advantage of this upswing. New development is still holding a steady pace, and opportunity is out there if you are willing to be creative and innovative.