Business Peace Cariboo Profiles Northern Development

March 24, 2009

By Goody Niosi
Published by the Business Peace Cariboo – March 2009
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The Northern Development Initiative Trust is proving to be a powerful catalyst for economic diversification and job creation in central and northern British Columbia.

The trust is an independent regional economic development corporation established by the province of British Columbia in 2005. It is independently governed by a board of 13 regional directors composed of local business people, mayors and regional district directors. As the leading economic development agency in the region Northern Development’s strategic goal is to inject $2 Billion every decade into communities within the region to realize their economic potential.

Economic development manager Brodie Guy explains that that amount of money is partly leveraged funds. “We’re infusing our own dollars into projects,” he says. “But we are also able to attract private and federal investment as a result.”

The corporation supports community economic development initiatives with funding for economic diversification infrastructure, , , capacity building, grant writing, community halls, recreational facilities, and community foundations.

Northern Development supports private business to create new jobs throughout the region via $30 Million in dedicated funding to support capital investment and new job training in central and northern BC. It also operates seven trust accounts with funding focused on ten primary investment areas: agriculture, economic development, energy, forestry, mining, Olympic opportunities, pine beetle recovery, small business, tourism, and transportation.

Guy notes that 2008 was an excellent year for the corporation. The fund approved investment of $1.5 Million in the Haida Heritage Centre on the Queen Charlotte Islands. “This is about building a world class tourism asset on Haida Gwai,” Guy explains. “And using that to create local employment. We see it as an anchor for the region.”

The corporation also approved investment of $1 Million into the Smithers Regional Airport runaway extension, which Guy notes dovetails neatly into the city’s development of Hudson Bay Mountain as a ski hill and tourist attraction.

Perhaps one of the most exciting initiatives begun October 1of last year and continuing through this year is a business program that offers rebates to businesses that are expanding, hiring and training new people throughout the region. In the last three months of 2008, business committed to creating 360 new jobs with the support of the program in places like Fort St. James, Mackenzie, Terrace and Prince George.

“There’s been further activity this year and I think we’ll just see this initiative take off,” Guy says.

The companies that have already applied for rebates have committed $3.3 Million to training and development. Those same companies are projecting over $19.5 Million in investments in the region.

The program is a simple one, Guy says. Companies make the initial investments and apply for the rebates six months later.

“We’re very results oriented here,” Guy says. “Our process is very streamlined – we pay on success.”

Northern Development Initiative Trust is at 301 – 1268 Fifth Avenue in Prince George.