For 21 years, Nathan Irving fished out of Murray River in the summers and worked out west in Alberta in the winters. However, the strain on his back led him to give up fishing about nine years ago. While he continued to work out west until 2017, it became increasingly difficult to leave his family for extended periods.
But, he knew he couldn’t remain idle. As a result, he decided to make a career change in 2019. His primary goal was to keep as close to home as possible to the people he loved most, his family.
So he decided to make use of his fishing experience and turn it into a tourism business. He had an idea to start a small food shack and boat tour business. However, when Nathan began to explore financing options for a new business, he quickly realized none were available to him. Instead of giving up, he contacted the Rural Action Center in Montague and scheduled a meeting with Martina MacDonald.
“I sat down with Martina and pitched my idea to her. She was encouraging and thought it was a great idea,” said Nathan. “She discussed the idea with her people, and if it weren’t for CBDC, Martina and Helen, I wouldn’t be in business today.”
Today Nathan runs Captain Nate’s Murray Islands Adventures, which features a licensed Lobster Bar and Seafood Market that offers fresh seafood and non-seafood options alike. He also does “Lobster on the River” tours and private boat charters around Murray River.
“This support RAC gave me was tremendous—everything from offering funds to take a computer course or build a website.”
Besides CBDC, he also received support from Points East Tourism Association, located in the Rural Action Centre.
“Everybody at RAC wants you to succeed, and they’ll do everything in their power to help you out. I can’t say enough great things about them,” said Nathan. “The whole process was very easy, and they made you feel very comfortable. I never felt like I was being talked down to.”
Nathan said the support didn’t stop from the Rural Action Centre despite the loan papers being signed.
“They have kept me updated on new initiatives or information that might help my business, along with loans and training. They always keep me in the loop. Their goal is for you to succeed. They’re not just there to pump out the money. As a client, they’re in contact with you all the time.”
Nathan believes it is essential for places like the Rural Action Center to exist.
“Everyone needs a chance in life. The banks are getting tougher and tougher to deal with, and if it weren’t for people like CBDC that take a chance on entrepreneurs like myself, it would be a lot less of a place,” says Nathan. “You got to have somebody to believe in you once in a while and take a leap.
“If someone was in the same position as me, I’d recommend RAC 100%,” says Nathan. “It’s a totally different atmosphere here than it is in a bank. They are more personable people, and they have empathy for people.”