Northern Development equips communities and businesses in its service region to invest in and improve human resources through a variety of funding programs: Economic Development Capacity Building, Grant Writing Support, First Nations Government Internship and Local Government Internship.
The Competitiveness Consulting Rebate, a business development program, supports a select group of local business owners and managers to participate in the Manufacturers’ Executive Council (MEC), a senior executive peer mentoring group that is led by a facilitator from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).
Each month in Northern B.C. a tight-knit group of senior executives and business owners meet to share business goals, challenges and learnings as the Manufacturers’ Executive Council (MEC). This monthly meeting is led by a facilitator from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) who guides attendees through the half-day session and holds them accountable to the goals, financial and otherwise, that they have set for their respective businesses.
“The biggest benefit I get from MEC is the wealth of knowledge and experience that is freely shared around the table,” said Gerry Friesen, president of FreFlyt Industries Inc. “Insight is shared on many things, everyone benefits from talking about WorkSafe, Indigenous relations, the legalization of marijuana and learning how others direct foremen and managers.”
Friesen has been a MEC member for several years and his Vanderhoof-based business has benefited from the monthly meetings and the relationships that have been built. Northern Development, through its Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program, offsets the cost of participation on MEC for seven local industry players, including Friesen. Participants receive 50 per cent of their costs in the form of a rebate.
“People share what’s happening in other industries and they also share personal challenges,” Friesen continued. “We talk about business partnerships and how to cope when things go south. We’ve had members go through divorces and we talk about how that impacts their life and business. We all help whoever is in a tough position at the time.”
It is evident that the relationships built during MEC meetings benefits the small group of members. This group of non-competing businesses decide together on welcoming new members and everyone has to agree to confidentiality as private information about business happenings are shared with the group and facilitator.
Since 2012, Northern Development has committed $94,156 to Northern B.C. businesses who participate in MEC. Investing in small- and medium- sized businesses in this unique way has been beneficial for all participants, as the collective knowledge shares insight on operational efficiency, profitability, capacity building, strategic planning, succession planning and numerous other relevant topics.
Lina Gasser is the Chief Administrative Officer with the Village of Hazelton and a member of our 2015 Local Government Management Internship (now Local Government Internship) cohort. We took a moment to talk with her about how her career has progressed since graduating from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in 2015 and participating in our local government intern program.
Q: First, can you briefly describe your position as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) with the Village of Hazelton?
A: As the Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Hazelton I ensure that Council’s vision for the Village of Hazelton is implemented as well as overseeing the day to day operations of a local government. I also hold the statutory titles of the Corporate Officer and Chief Financial Officer. I oversee not only the Village Office staff but also the Public Works employees and the Fire Department. My favourite part of being a CAO is being able to report back to Council that their goals have been achieved.
Q: Now, let’s go back a few years to when you were completing your degree at UNBC. What did your studies focus on? What did you think you’d be doing five years after graduating?
A: I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a major in International Studies and a minor in Political Science. I hoped that in five years I would be working in government, whether it be local, provincial or federal. I am happy that I chose local government as it has allowed me to live in Northern B.C.
Q: How did you learn about Northern Development’s local government internship program and why did you choose to apply?
A: I heard about the Northern Development internship program from one of my professors at UNBC. I chose to apply because at the time I was becoming more interested in where change begins. I noticed that local governments can help facilitate positive change. I was also recognizing that as much as I enjoyed learning about international, federal and provincial government there was no way I was going to move to a big city to pursue such a career.
Q: You were a Local Government Management Intern with the District of Fort St. James in 2015. What did you gain from this experience of working in local government?
A: Moving to Fort St. James was a big adventure! I gained an incredible amount of experience in every aspect of local government. Not only did I undertake Bylaw Enforcement by bicycle but I also joined the Fire Department and learned how to drive a Fire Engine. Moving to a small community forced me to say yes to experiences and opportunities I would not have had anywhere else. During my internship I was also able to discover what area of local government I had the greatest interest in, Corporate Administration.
Q: What did you do after completing your internship? How did your internship prepare you for this?
A: Six months into my internship I successfully applied for the Deputy Corporate Officer position with the District of Fort St. James. In the nearly 4 years I spent in Fort St. James I held many positions ending with Corporate Officer. My NDIT internship provided me with experiences that put me ahead of other candidates. I lacked years of service but made up for that with experience in nearly all local government departments. This experience also helped me secure my current position as CAO in Hazelton. The value of the internship program is also recognized across Northern B.C. and I think this recognition also helped secure my new position.
Q: What makes a career in local government in Northern B.C. a good choice?
A: I barely remember my interview with Northern Development back in early 2015, as I was terrified by the panel of interviewers, but when asked why I should be chosen for an internship I replied with “I love Northern B.C., this is where I want to be.” This statement is still accurate today. A career in local government allows me to live in a beautiful part of the world, work with incredible people and help create positive meaningful change at a local level. I am able to access great mountain bike trails from my front door; great skiing is a short drive away and there are endless hiking and river adventures to be had.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: A career in local government can be exciting, rewarding and terrifying at times. My NDIT internship cohort still remain the first people I call for help on, policies, bylaws or general procedure questions. I will be forever grateful to NDIT for my start in local government!
Northern Development has been strategically investing millions of dollars into small- and medium-sized businesses for over a decade. The Trust’s support is delivered in a variety of unique ways, from rebates supporting innovative projects (through the Northern Industries Innovation Fund) to Love Northern BC, the largest shop-local program in Canada.
The Northern Industries Innovation Fund (NIIF) supports innovative projects in a variety of industries, including forestry, agriculture, energy, mining and manufacturing. Up to $50,000 is available to businesses that are undertaking innovative projects that increase their competitiveness in traditional industries across Northern B.C. Since 2018, Northern Development has approved 14 projects through NIIF, committing $685,613 to Northern B.C. businesses.
The Competitiveness Consulting Rebate (CCR) provides businesses with up to a $30,000 rebate when they hire an external consultant. The consultant must focus on providing the business with ways to increase productivity, generate new or incremental revenues, increase profitability and/or create jobs. Businesses that are engaged in manufacturing, innovative technologies, resource processing, transportation, distribution and their first line suppliers within the Trust’s service region are eligible for this rebate. CCR was launched by Northern Development in 2008 and has supported 479 projects with more than $4.5 million.
Twice, an offshoot of CCR has been created by the Trust to support businesses that have been affected by unusual circumstances. The first was the Wildfire Recovery Rebate, which was one of the tools available to businesses that were impacted by the 2017 and 2018 wildfires. Through this temporary funding opportunity, 20 businesses in the Cariboo-Chilcotin/Lillooet region received $371,476 in rebates after hiring a professional consultant.
Mason & Daly and Michael Bednar Photography, both based in the Cariboo, have received a funding through the Wildfire Recovery Rebate. Read how about how the rebate helped their respective companies and where their business is going in our success stories: Refocusing after the flames and Mason & Daly make 21st century changes.
The second offshoot of CCR was announced by Northern Development in August 2019. The Forestry Affected Business (FAB) Consulting Rebate also reimburses small- and medium-sized businesses with up to 75 per cent, to a maximum of $15,000, for the costs of hiring an external consultant to support the business during the economic downturn in the forestry industry. FAB supports businesses in a range of industries, including retail, tourism, agriculture, innovation, hospitality and more in any community that has been affected by mill closures or curtailments in the Trust’s service area. In less than three months, more than $67,000 has been committed to five businesses through this program.
November has come and gone and so has Plaid Friday, Love Northern BC’s response to the busyness of Black Friday.
“Plaid Friday is a fun event that local shoppers and business owners look forward to every year,” said Joanne Doddridge, Love 100 Mile House Community Champion and Director of Economic Development and Planning with the District of 100 Mile House. “Our local shops offer beautiful and unique products which make finding the perfect gift a breeze and their friendly customer service makes the experience so much fun!”
For the third consecutive year, Northern Development, through Love Northern BC, has encouraged residents throughout its region, from Lillooet to Fort Nelson, to support their local businesses during the holiday shopping season and throughout the year.
“Economically, it’s important that we focus on supporting local businesses throughout the year,” Doddridge continued. “They truly are the backbone of our community and they contribute so much to the area. Plaid Friday has really caught on in 100 Mile House and we’re eager to see it continue in 2020 and beyond.”
In 2019, 20 community champions organized Plaid Friday activities for their communities. Events varied, and included a scavenger hunts, selfie contests and late night shopping extravaganzas, to name a few. These activities not only boost sales at locally and independently owned businesses, but also raise awareness about the benefits of keeping money in the local economy.
Staff members at the Trust also participated in Plaid Friday festivities by wearing their best plaid.
Thanks to Thomas Camus Photography for sharing these photos of Plaid Friday in Telkwa with us!
This holiday season, will you be gathering in a community facility that has received funding from Northern Development?
If so, we’d love to see pictures (or video) of your community gathering in a place we’ve invested in! These images will be shared on our social media and in our December newsletter. From community halls to airports, cross-country ski facilities to community theatres, share your holiday celebrations with us!
Northern Development’s Local Government Internship supports local governments by increasing their capacity while welcoming recent graduates into the world of local government. Offered annually, this program places skilled people in communities throughout Northern B.C. to the benefit of the host community and the intern. This valuable work experience provides young professionals with many opportunities while enjoying Northern B.C.’s unique lifestyle.
Are you a local government interested in applying to host an intern for 2020? The deadline to apply is January 7, 2020.
Visit this page for more information and for an application form.
Will you be graduating in 2020 and looking to launch your career in local government? The deadline to apply to be an intern is January 30, 2020.
Find more information and an application form here.
Northern Development also offers a First Nations Government Internship. Click here to learn more about this excellent opportunity with First Nations governments.
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Love Northern BC is a movement connecting people with the independent locally-owned businesses that are the heart and soul of their communities.