New $30 Million Business Incentive Program to Attract Business to Central and Northern BC

September 29, 2008

Prince George, BC –  Northern British Columbia’s business advantages are being showcased in a new $30 million business attraction program launched today by Northern Development Initiative Trust (Northern Development). The Northern BC Business Advantage program includes a capital investment and training rebate program that provides businesses with incentives for job creation.

“Northern British Columbia has enormous competitive advantages for businesses, including lower overall business costs and a major transportation corridor that gets goods to market faster,” said Janine North, CEO of the Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The Northern BC Business Advantage program builds on the competitive strengths of the region by improving the bottom line of employers by up to $10,000 per new job created.”

The capital investment and training rebate program provides eligible businesses in export driven sectors of the economy with up to $10,000 per new job based on direct capital investment and training expenditures related to the expansion or establishment of a business. To qualify for funding, businesses must create at least two new full time jobs.

The program benefits participating businesses by lowering the costs of purchasing productivity increasing capital equipment, and/or training new employees. The training rebate offers the flexibility to cover any combination of training provider costs and/or on the job training costs for new employees.

In the case of Conifex Inc., a forest products company, the training rebates played an important role in its decision to purchase forestry and sawmilling assets in Fort St. James and ramp up the timelines for training the workforce and starting up production this fall.

Ken Shields, CEO of Conifex Inc., explains the benefits of the Northern BC Business Advantage program, which was a catalyst in his firm’s investment in Fort St. James.

“The Northern BC Business Advantage program gave us the confidence and support we needed to successfully conclude the transaction,” said Ken Shields, CEO of Conifex Inc. “The benefits available under the program are an important reason we accepted the challenge of retraining our existing workforce and recruiting new employees.”

"This is an opportunity for employers to invest in a higher level of safety and production skills training that would otherwise not have been considered,” said Frank Everitt, President, United Steelworkers, Local 1-424.  “With input from the management team, the plant committee and the local union, we can attain and retain a very successful trained workforce in our competitive industry.  Both workers and business will benefit from the Northern BC Business Advantage program.”

Nak’azdli Economic Development Manager Leonard Thomas is working closely with Conifex to ensure mutual success as Nak’azdli, Tl’azt’en and Takla First Nations look forward to the expansion of forest harvesting, and sawmill employment opportunities with the very collaborative approach that Conifex takes to building their business in the region.  “We have worked closely with Northern Development on community economic development projects and are excited that there is a business program that is having such an impact on our economy and potentially other local businesses.”

“The program is a highly responsive program that pays funds to businesses based on performance,” said North. “We’re building on the current competitive advantages of central and northern BC to attract investment and create jobs.”  

Bruce Sutherland, Chair of the Northern Development Initiative Trust Board and owner of a manufacturing company himself said, “There is no other program for business like this in Canada that is so responsive and streamlined. The forty communities within the Northern Development region are absolutely welcoming businesses by providing a great investment climate through their commitment and support of this program and they look forward to personally thanking each manufacturing or resource processing business that expands in their community with a rebate from Northern Development.”

Among the many business advantages of central and northern BC are lower overall business costs, abundant and low cost energy, access to land, and a northern transportation corridor that provides North America’s fastest route to Asia. Northern BC’s Port of Prince Rupert is North America’s closest port to key Asian markets.

Industrial land selling prices across central and northern BC average $16,345 per serviced acre, exponentially less than the $654,000/acre for comparable parcels in the metropolitan Vancouver area. Overall business costs are also dramatically lower than Vancouver, Edmonton, Seattle, Chicago and Anchorage, according to KPMG Competitive Alternatives Survey for 2008.

Established in 2005, Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent regional economic development corporation focussed on stimulating economic growth and job creation in central and northern British Columbia. Northern Development will be the catalyst to inject $2 billion every decade into communities within the region to realize their economic potential.

To learn more about the Northern BC Business Advantage program, businesses are encouraged to visit both the Northern BC Business Advantage and Capital Investment and Training Rebate sections of the website.

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Media Contacts

Janine North
Chief Executive Officer
Northern Development
Tel: 250-561-2525

Ken Shields
Chief Executive Officer
Conifex Inc.
Tel: 604-659-8350

Leonard Thomas
Economic Development Manager
Nak’azdli First Nation
Tel: 250-613-6340

Frank Everitt
United Steelworkers, Local 1-424
Tel: 250-563-7771