Northern Development Initiative Trust has approved more funding for economic development projects in the first six months of 2014 than it did in all of 2013.
The Trust has approved $6.6 million in funding for 210 projects so far this year, compared with $5.8 million for 217 projects during the entirety of 2013. The driving force behind the increase in funding approvals this year was the Trust’s decision in February to increase the annual grant allocation to 7% from 5%. That decision, made by the Trust’s board of directors, has meant that a total of $11.4 million in grants is available to local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations throughout central and northern B.C. this year.
In addition to that, the Trust has also seen a significant increase in demand and applications this year to support infrastructure projects throughout the region. The increase in applications, in many cases, is related to the economic boom underway throughout northern B.C., which has placed new pressures on communities and a need for economic development-related infrastructure upgrades. For example, Northern Development has approved $500,000 in funding for airport upgrades in Terrace and Prince Rupert, which will allow them to better handle ongoing traffic increases amid LNG planning and development along the north coast.
Northern Development staff have also made a concerted effort this year to regularly engage with local government administrators and community leaders throughout the region to find new and unique projects that qualify for funding under the Trust’s program streams. That effort has not only helped increase the number of projects approved for funding throughout the region, but also has allowed communities to take a more active role in regional economic development.
Approved projects this year have ranged from $250,000 economic development infrastructure upgrades to $5,000 and $10,000 approvals for Competitiveness Consulting Rebate projects, which help businesses fine-tune their operations to generate more revenue through supplying goods and services to the expanding energy, mining, forestry and transportation sectors. Additional funding includes projects such as the Wells Community Hall, which qualified for $9,500 in funding under the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program. A large proportion of the Trust’s funding approvals so far this year has been comprised of $50,000 grants distributed under the Economic Development Capacity Building program, which provides funding directly to municipalities and regional districts to boost their ability to pursue local economic development projects.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are extremely pleased with the Trust’s financial results so far this year,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Our efforts to sustainably increase funding outflows and maximize engagement with communities will help the region take advantage of the amazing economic development opportunities at our doorstep.”
• In the first six months of 2014 the Trust approved 210 projects and $6,605,798 in funding
• 41 local government communities in Northern Development’s region were approved for $50,000 in funding under the Economic Development Capacity Building program in 2014 for a total of $2,050,000
• So far this year six projects throughout the region have been approved for $250,000 grants through the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program
• 22 communities have been approved for $20,000 each in funding under Northern Development’s 2014 Business Facade Improvement Program
The 2% increase to 7% in annual grant funding is a result of the Trust’s board of director’s decision in February 2014 to maximize the amount of dollars available to grassroots, community-led projects throughout central and northern B.C. While the Trust has disbursed over $122 million since its inception in 2005, its capital base has also grown to more than $200 million to keep track with inflation and ensure a long-term sustainable trust for central and northern communities.
As a result, Northern Development is now able to grant out a maximum of 7% of its capital base per year and continue to remain financially sustainable for the foreseeable future.
Northern Development Initiative Trust
The District of Taylor is in the midst of upgrading its recreation facilities to maintain its goal to be a more health-conscious community, in part thanks to $30,000 in funding received from Northern Development Initiative Trust in 2013. This project builds on Taylor’s healthy community goals established after the town was featured on the CBC television series Village on a Diet in 2011. The funding was approved under the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program to complete improvements at Taylor’s curling rink and pool.
Due to the fact that the building is approximately 40 years old, there were a variety of upgrades that were required to keep the facility in satisfactory operating condition. With funding from Northern Development and the District of Taylor, upgrades underway include the complete replacement of four furnaces, exterior improvements (including new siding, downspouts and fascia), kitchen improvements, multilevel flooring replacement and structural roof repair.
The Taylor Curling Club leases part of the facility in the winter, while the District of Taylor utilizes the other part of the complex as a pool during the summer months. The District of Taylor’s pool is open from May long weekend until the end of August every year. The pool is a valuable asset for the community, offering affordable group and private swimming lessons, rental space for parties and events, and a gathering place for the community to develop healthier lifestyles. In addition to the recreational complex improvements, the District of Taylor opened a fitness facility in 2011. The fitness facility was made possible through collaborative funding from Northern Development Initiative Trust, the District of Taylor and Force Four Entertainment, which produced the CBC television series Village on a Diet. The District of Taylor continues to encourage their community members to utilize municipal facilities and community services programming that offer a pathway toward a healthier lifestyle.
The developments to Taylor’s recreational facilities have also generated direct economic benefits for the community in the form of revenue from gym memberships, swimming lessons and event rental space. As well, local instructors have been providing new revenue-generating services at the improved recreation facilities including yoga, tai chi and kickboxing classes. Northern Development’s Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program provides municipalities, regional districts, First Nations bands and registered non-profit organizations with up to 50% of a project’s budget to a maximum of $30,000 in funding to improve or expand existing facilities in order to increase the number of events held annually in the community, contributing to service sector revenues in the local economy.
“Village on a Diet made a significant impact on the District of Taylor, and our Mayor and Council are extremely interested in promoting a healthier lifestyle through venues such as the Taylor Fitness Facility and our District of Taylor pool,” said Laura Prosko, Community Services Director, District of Taylor. “The vision of health and wellness is seen through various community services programming with events such as Taylor Winter Olympics and our annual Worlds’ Invitational Gold Panning Championships on August long weekend, which celebrates Taylors rich history.”
• Northern Development has previously supported several curling rink repair and upgrade projects in communities throughout the region including Ashcroft, Forest Grove, Vanderhoof and Burns Lake.
• The District of Taylor recreational complex operates a seasonal and diverse fitness facility, offering both a pool and curling rink
• $8,000 in funding was previously approved by the Trust to assist the District of Taylor to improve the health of Taylor residents in keeping with the initiative started by the Village on a Diet television series
• Previous funding of $22,000 was also approved for the District of Taylor community hall improvements by upgrading and replacing the flooring at the facility
• Taylor’s fitness facility maintains a great variety of fitness equipment including cardio equipment such as treadmills and stationary bikes, as well as strength machines and free weights
Northern Development Initiative Trust
Every month we bring you a new infographic about the Trust, its activities or economic development in Northern B.C.
This time around, because it’s sunny and hot outside, and our staff can’t stop talking about all the cool places in B.C. they plan to check out this summer, we decided to have some fun and celebrate the region we call home. So here it is – 17 random things you probably didn’t know about Northern B.C.
Why 17? Because Caitlin, our researcher and Manager of Market Development, high-tailed it down to Quesnel as soon as she heard about the Vanilla Coke at Barkerville Fudge & Bumblebee Boutique. Hey, that qualifies as economic development doesn’t it?
While the province is abuzz with news about the economic boom on the north coast – it’s B.C.’s Peace region that stands to benefit the most from natural gas development. It’s been said that for every $1 billion invested in LNG development on the north coast, at least $4 billion will be invested in natural gas extraction in the northeast – but how will that affect communities such as Fort St. John and Taylor?
Northern Development recently chatted with Jennifer Moore, Regional Economic Development Officer for the North Peace Economic Development Commission, to find out how the northeast region can capitalize on the coming wave of investment.
Q: B.C.’s Peace region has been booming for a number of years now thanks to the development of the energy industry. In your role as the Regional Economic Development Officer at North Peace Economic Development Commission, how do you approach the day-to-day job of economic development in your region?
A: The energy sector is moving along at a fast pace, and it is only going to gain momentum into the foreseeable future. The focus of the North Peace Economic Development Commission is to ensure that the communities are going to improve economically because of the development that happens in the region.
Q: The North Peace Economic Development Commission (NPEDC) continues to contribute to growth and economic development in northern B.C., What do you think has been your organization’s most valuable achievement to date?
A: We have many notable achievements contributing to the sustainable growth of the communities in the North Peace. The greatest successes come from projects that engage our community partners to work together. Partnering with the North Peace Regional Airport and North Peace Airport Society, we were able to attract WestJet, making a total of three carriers to the region with scheduled service. This has increased scheduled flights to other communities, decreased fares and increased passenger movements through the regional airport by over 60%.
Q: The NPEDC recently hosted the Spark! Women’s Leadership Conference, May 21st in Fort St. John. How does Spark! facilitate the professional educational needs of a growing female workforce in the north?
A: Spark! Women’s Leadership Conference happened because we identified a professional development conference needed to be held closer to home. There is amazing talent in the North Peace region and nurturing that talent is important to the development of our communities from the professional sector, to the not-for-profit and volunteer sectors. The goal was to inspire leadership within every person in the room – you don’t need to have a title to be a leader.
Q: The NPEDC’s mandate is to support, foster and stimulate the North Peace region as a significant and sustainable economic driver through collaborative processes. What are the current projects that the NPEDC is working on to achieve this goal?
A: The NPEDC has three key areas of focus: transportation and infrastructure, business and industry development and marketing. We are currently working with residents and industry to identify where the investment needs to occur for our transportation infrastructure to support continued safe growth in our region. These three areas are our top priorities, both from a business and community perspective. We also rely on that intelligence to attract new business to the region. The North Peace marketing strategy must reflect current and future activity levels and strategically forecasted needs.
Q: What advice do you have for young professionals seeking rewarding careers in the Peace region?
A: The opportunities for experience and advancement in the Peace region are boundless. If you have a strong work ethic and are prepared to think differently about how to approach the challenges in your community, then this is the place for you. The biggest message I would have is, what are you waiting for?
Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program provides a rebate of up to 50% to a yearly maximum of $30,000, to help businesses recover the cost of external consulting services. The program was set up to level the playing field so that businesses based in central and northern B.C. could access first-rate consulting services without bearing the prohibitive costs associated with bringing the consultants to the region.
The program also connects regional businesses with talented regional management consultants. The overall objective of the program is to support central and northern B.C. manufacturers, innovators, processors, and their suppliers to grow their businesses, implement world-class business practices and become more competitive in Canadian and global markets. Program funding is available to small and medium sized companies engaged in manufacturing, innovative technologies, resource processing, transportation and distribution for outsourced consulting services.
The consulting projects that are eligible for funding under the program must focus on increased productivity, new or incremental revenues, profitability and or job creation. Eligible companies must be privately owned and have headquarters within the Northern Development region. Northern Development has provided $1.8 million in rebates to 145 businesses throughout the region since the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program was launched.
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