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Women's Centre emerges victorious from Squamish version of Dragons' Den

Event mimics popular TV programs on CBC and BBC



Squamish innovators are borrowing a popular TV idea to help local groups take their visions and make them a reality.

The group called Inside Edge (IE) hosted their version of CBC's the Dragons' Den last week at the Squamish Adventure Centre to choose one of three applicants for expert help to get their ideas up and running.

It was a tight race between the Howe Sound Women's Centre Society, The Squamish Writers Group and the Squamish Climate Action Network. But in the end the panel of three judges chose the Women's Centre Society, which is looking for help to launch an on-line auction of goods from its Pearl's Value and Vintage thrift store.

"They presented well," said IE member David Olsson of all three groups. "It was fun, too."

More than 50 people packed into the theatre to hear the presentations and watch the judging panel made up of Jason Cyr, Councillor Patricia Heintzman and Chris Pettingill, question the project leaders.

"At the end there was an overwhelming feeling that it should be done again," said Olsson.

Sheila Allen, the executive director of the Women's Centre pitched the judges with Kate Harvie, the thrift store manager, and Tessa McLoughin, the Pearl's Safe House coordinator. Dressed in black and wearing red shoes, Allen said the trio regularly put on fancy red shoes to promote the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraising event.

Allen and her team outlined for the judges how Pearl's Seconds doubled its retail space this summer and now wants to complement the expansion by using IE's diverse expertise to create a fun, user-friendly on-line auction.

The Women's Centre proposal called for short auction times and a constantly changing roster of items within a fun, user-friendly on-line auction format.

James Morris, one of the IE members leading the project, said the initiative is similar to a barn raising where the whole community comes out to support one farmer's efforts to put up a new barn.

Nine groups initially submitted project proposals this summer and the group of nine was reduced to three. The project proposal leaders were asked to give a ten-minute summary of their project at the Eagles' Den. Question and answer sessions followed each presentation.

IE members will donate their time and gather at Quest University on Oct.29 to move the project from concept to reality.

Allen said her team will be there to support the experts and she said any other volunteers who feel they can contribute to the effort are invited to be part of it.

The Women's Centre is also working to create a women's drop-in centre for Whistler this winter.

Inside Edge is an evolving organization of more than 100 innovative professionals from the Sea-to-Sky corridor that have come together to support and promote innovation in the corridor. The group represents a diverse range of knowledge and skills including marketing, media production, human resources, information, engineering, arts, project management, entrepreneurship and business coaching, education, athletic training, coaching and rehabilitation.

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