The first time I met Allen Lloyd, I was a bit perplexed.

It was 2003 and he'd just moved to Barrie to take on the outreach position with Canada Revenue Agency. We were talking about entrepreneurs and about how so many don't know how to build a meaningful relationship with the CRA.

That was Allen's job. Outreach. Meeting with business owners and helping them through the maze of hst returns, tax issues, back tax issues, what gets you into trouble, and what doesn't. Allen was also offering workshops to help people in their business start-up days. Bookkeeping, business startup basics, hiring employees... in all, five workshops offered daytimes and evenings in small groups to entrepreneurs.

What a great idea! When a person starts a business, other than the raw skill of what they do, most of the rest of it is a huge mystery. How do you register for an HST number? When should you incorporate? Can you get into trouble when you hire? It would be easy to use up several pages with questions just like this.

So, how wonderful is it to have a public face at the CRA office on Mulcaster St? How wonderful to have a person who can explain processes, and help make sure new business owners understand their responsibilities.

I was excited about what Allen would be offering through the CRA. And I was perplexed.  As he spoke, I found myself giving voice to the obvious question. "Excuse me," I said. "But you don't seem like a government employee. You seem very entrepreneurial. Have you ever thought about self employment?"

Allen laughed that easy laugh of his. "I've been self employed with an accounting practice for years," he said. "I've moved to Barrie from Sudbury to provide bilingual services for the CRA."

Well, Sudbury's loss has been Barrie's gain for nearly a decade. Allen has spoken all over the region to entrepreneurs, established business owners, start-ups, anywhere that people needed to hear the voice of Canada Revenue. He's opened doors and attitudes for literally hundreds of entrepreneurs.

With Barrie region being the self-employment hotbed that it is, having these workshops offered by the Barrie CRA office has put a positive public face on the mystery of tax and audits.

So, this summer when the federal government announced that outreach positions would be eliminated and workshops would become videos on the CRA website, Allen found himself at a watershed moment. As a federal employee, he could take a number of other positions, none of them interacting with the business community. As a federal employee that would provide continuity to his paycheque and pension plans and benefits programs. And I suspect most federal employees would move in that direction.

However, it's hard to take the entrepreneur out of the guy, and so Allen has decided once again to strike out on his own. Shiny new business cards announce Paragon Solutions as he moves into providing accounting and tax advice, entrepreneurial workshops, information for business. When we met last week, he expressed real excitement about the road ahead and the opportunities that open up when he meets other entrepreneurs.

Hank Koudsi, Assistant Director of Taxpayer Services from the local CRA office, circulated this comment: "Allen has been instrumental in leading our Outreach and CVITP programs and was arguably one of the best in our region. Please join me in wishing him the best in his future endeavours."

Why am I sharing this with you, wonderful Examiner readers?  Because I think it's rare for someone with a full time, government job, to step back into entrepreneurial activity. Because Allen Lloyd has been a tremendous resource for small business owners in this region. And because I'm excited that he's going to use his skill to continue to benefit the self employment community!

Allen?  Way to go!!!

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