Development Bank Strives to Make Business in the North Thrive

By Jennifer McIntosh – Houston Today
Published: November 26, 2008 5:00 am
View article on the Houston Today website

Wendy Rockafellow, consultant manager for the Business Development Bank of Canada, said the (Northern Development) is a great opportunity for businesses in manufacturing at a Chamber Luncheon in Houston on Wednesday.

Since its inception, 18 projects have been completed under Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate, with three under way in Smithers and five in Prince George.

“They pay up to 50 per cent of your capital costs and I think only one of my clients didn’t qualify under the program,” she said.

The BDC also has financing available to start a business or consulting firm — up to $5 million.

Even businesses making money can use the services of BDC.

Companies in Fort St. John have gone from making $350,000 per year to $2 million and they have trouble managing the cash,” Rockafellow, whose territory stretches from Quesnel to the Yukon border, said.

“We work on a cash-flow commercial basis, we look at your operation rather than the security of your assets,” Rockafellow said. “But chambers like this are a great vehicle to advance business.”

Some of services the BDC offers are ownership transition. “There are a lot of dad to son transfers — I see this down the road a lot,” Rockafellow said.

“The other thing is we put you in touch with other businesses and competitors so you can see how things are done with them.”

Ownership transition help can also keep businesses locally-owned. If a plumber wants to retire, one of his employees can work with the bank on securing financing so the employee can take over.

“This preserves the brain trust and in a town like Houston, losing a plumber has a large impact,” Rockafellow said.