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October 2014 - Newsletter

Northern Development funding supports trades training in northern B.C

Project Shop Class

High school students in northern B.C. have one more reason to consider a career in the trades with access to new shop class equipment.

Northern Development Initiative Trust’s board of directors have approved a $250,000 grant for Project Shop Class (northern B.C.) – a program designed to replace and augment shop class equipment in high schools throughout the region.

The grant was approved with support from all four of the Trust’s regional advisory committees as well as its board, and comes amid a significant wave of proposed industrial development in the region that will require more skilled trades workers than northern B.C. currently has available.

Local high school graduates are an important source of labour for small and medium sized construction companies, but without more emphasis on shop class many of the companies will have difficulty recruiting the people they need to land new contracts and grow, which could result in lost growth opportunities for the region.

Project Shop Class is a partnership between the B.C. Construction Association North and the Construction Foundation of B.C. that will benefit the secondary schools in the region to provide the tools and equipment students need to train for rewarding trades careers.

The current budget for this northern focus of Project Shop Class totals $532,000 and includes generous donations from industry. A list of all donors can be found at the Construction Foundation of B.C. website. B.C.’s northern high schools have requested more than $1 million in support to date and therefore fundraising activities will continue.

Northern Development’s funding commitment was approved through the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides up to $250,000 in grant funding.


“Northern B.C.’s shortage of skilled trades workers is a potential barrier to investment in the region, and the Project Shop Class program will help address that challenge, strengthening local construction businesses and the regional economy,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“We are very pleased that Northern Development Initiative Trust has chosen to support this worthy undertaking. This is just the type of commitment our region needs to help promote economic development in our communities and encourage our youth to consider a career in the trades,” stated Rosalind Thorn, president of the B.C. Construction Association-North.

Sue Zacharias, co-owner of United Concrete & Gravel in Williams Lake and board director on the Construction Foundation of B.C. knows firsthand of the need to reach out to youth. “Buildforce Canada is forecasting that over 30,000 skilled trades jobs will go unfilled by British Columbians over the next decade. Many of the jobs will be in the north where major projects are underway. We need to give our youth the building blocks to be able to participate in these opportunities.”

Quick Facts
• Project Shop Class is a partnership between the Construction Associations of B.C. and the Construction Foundation of B.C.
• Buildforce Canada predicts skill shortages for the construction industry in B.C. for the next decade, which will be exacerbated by the development of an LNG industry
• Approximately 85% of the businesses operating in the construction industry have fewer than 10 employees and yet they hire and train most of the journey-persons across all sectors
• Northern Development’s $250,000 grant contribution will be used to purchase tools for high schools throughout the region that take part in the program
• To date, Northern Development has approved more than $125 million in grant funding for 1,500 economic development projects throughout central and northern B.C.
• The Trust’s funding contributions to the region have helped create more than 6,000 new jobs since 2005

Joel McKay,
Director, Communications,
Northern Development Initiative Trust

Small business gets a big boost in Haida Gwaii and Fort Nelson

126 independent businesses have recently joined the region’s Small Town Love movement.

Independent businesses on Haida Gwaii and in Fort Nelson felt the love last week as Northern Development’s Small Town Love program officially launched in their communities.

Small Town Love is a movement connecting people with the independent shops and services that are the heart and soul of their communities.

The program is designed to deliver unique marketing campaigns in communities throughout central and northern B.C. that celebrate locally owned independent businesses with an aim to strengthen their competitiveness and keep more dollars in the local economy. launched on Sunday October 26th with 95 independent businesses.

Meanwhile, launched October 22 with 31 unique businesses.

The Small Town Love program represents a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust, Small Town Love founder and entrepreneur Amy Quarry and communities throughout the region. Quarry created and launched the original “Small Town Love” initiative in the City of Quesnel.

With more than 50 local Quesnel-based businesses working collaboratively under the “Small Town Love” marketing brand, Quarry’s original program was extremely well received and highly successful.

Since then, hundreds of locally owned independent businesses in 14 communities throughout the region have signed on to have their products and stories featured through unique community web portals.

Since November 1, 2013, the region’s Small Town Love websites have attracted more than 60,000 visits – and statistics show that 62% of visitors return to Small Town Love sites to use them again and again to find unique, independent businesses throughout northern B.C.

Communities interested in joining the Small Town Love movement should contact Northern Development directly at 250-561-2525.

$250,000 for Village of McBride to expand entrepreneurial capacity

The Village of McBride is in the midst of developing additional capacity for local businesses, while also establishing their new Grow Robson Valley – Business Support Centre. Northern Development Initiative Trust approved $250,000 to assist the Village of McBride purchasing and renovating the former Forest District office located on a 10-acre commercial site.

Until now there have been limited opportunities for McBride entrepreneurs to locate along the highway. However, with the new commercial site, local entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to rent available space in the facility, allowing them to grow their businesses at a new, more accessible location along Highway 16, a major transportation corridor.

The office space will house the new Grow Robson Valley – Business Support Centre. The Support Centre will act as a hub, where local entrepreneurs can gain assistance from the support centre through professional services that will be located in the commercial space. The 10-acre site, adjacent to Yellowhead Highway 16, will also be the new location for the municipality’s public works department.

In addition to the Trust’s contribution, the Village of McBride is committing $100,000 for the purchase of the commercial site. This project was approved under the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides up to $250,000 in funding to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and non-profit organizations in Northern Development’s service area.


“The commercial site investment is located along a key transportation corridor in central B.C. in a valley with a depressed economy and will expand the range of opportunity for small businesses to co-locate in McBride,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Northern Development is proud to support this project through our Economic Diversification Infrastructure program.”

“The Village of McBride is excited to purchase this building, which will be used to create a unique opportunity for small businesses who are looking to operate on the highway, and will encourage economic growth in our community," said Mayor Mike Frazier, Village of McBride. "Thanks to Northern Development Initiative Trust for making this possible.”

"This initiative is an excellent economic diversification opportunity for the Village of McBride," said Eliana Clements, CAO, Village of McBride. "Thank you to the Northern Development Initiative Trust for their continued support in our community.”

Quick Facts
• The proposed renovations to the commercial site have the potential to increase its value by almost $300,000.
• There is also potential for the Village of McBride to generate more than $730,000 in new revenue over the next five years through office rentals and commercial land leases.
• With the purchase of the new site, the Village’s public works department’s annual operating expenses will be reduced.
• Northern Development has already approved 20 projects through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program in 2014, with a combined total funding commitment of $4,098,083.

Joel McKay
Director, Communications
Northern Development Initiative Trust

Caitlin Hartigan,
Manager, Market Development
Northern Development Initiative Trust

Northern airport improvements continue to take flight

Project Shop Class
Northern Development recently approved $189,000 in funding for the North Peace Regional Airport terminal enhancements, in an effort to better serve their growing customer base.

Due to a growing increase in demand, the North Peace Airport Society is upgrading the North Peace Regional Airport through a series of improvements to their terminal. The enhancements include modern terminal furniture, extra outlets for charging mobile devices, additional business use areas and improvements to main terminal washrooms.

This is the third in a series of funding approvals provided to the North Peace Regional Airport from Northern Development. Previously, the Trust provided a total of $500,000 for two phases of parking upgrades and expansions to support the rising number of travellers through the Fort St. John area.

The project is approved under the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides up to $250,000 in funding to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and non-profit organizations in Northern Development’s service area.


“The North Peace Regional Airport terminal improvements will enhance service for travellers in and out of the north,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The Trust is pleased to support this exciting project through our Economic Diversification Infrastructure program.”

“Thanks to Northern Development for their ongoing support for the infrastructure projects at the North Peace Regional Airport,” said Fred Jarvis, Chair, North Peace Regional Airport Society. “There is a lot of growth happening in our region, and this support enables us to serve the travelling public and industry that access the airport.”

Quick Facts

• Over the past two years, the Trust has approved airport improvement projects in Masset, Prince Rupert, Terrace/Kitimat, Fraser Lake, Quesnel, Anahim Lake, Fort Nelson and Fort St. John
• The North Peace Regional Airport’s completion date for the terminal improvement is projected to be November, 2014.
• Northern Development has already approved 20 projects through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program in 2014, with a combined total funding commitment of $4,098,083.

Joel McKay
Director, Communications
Northern Development Initiative Trust

Caitlin Hartigan,
Manager, Market Development
Northern Development Initiative Trust

Q&A with Tumbler Ridge EDO, Jordan Wall

Jordan Wall
Tough times have descended upon the District of Tumbler Ridge since Tumbler Ridge's coal mines, which are the community's largest employer, were recently placed on care and maintenance. We got in touch with Jordan Wall, Tumbler Ridge's new economic development officer, to chat about what the District's key strategic priorities are to help the local economy flourish again.

Q How have you developed a strategy to move the dial on economic development in your community?

A: The focus of Tumbler Ridge and its council has been to find ways to diversify our economy. We understand the boom and bust cycle of the coal industry but feel that Tumbler Ridge has so much more to offer than that. The focus on building our tourism industry and being named the second Geopark in Canada has certainly helped in this mission. We have also connected with other industries bringing a 140 megawatt wind power project online and helping Pattern Energy to develop their new 185 megawatt wind project.

Q:Being a born-and-raised Tumbler Ridge resident, how do you feel your community has developed over the years, and what do you envision for the future of Tumbler Ridge?

A: When I was born in Tumbler Ridge, the community was completely dependent on the coal industry that owned most of the houses. The Northeast was a very different place as well. Since that time dinosaur fossils were discovered in Tumbler Ridge that recently proved that the mighty T-Rex, despite what you saw in Jurassic Park, was a pack hunter. Tumbler Ridge has the opportunity to become a much larger community. With the proper preparation to handle the boom that is coming our way if Site C, wind or LNG projects are approved, we stand to grow significantly.

Q:You moved away from Tumbler Ridge for several years to pursue other career opportunities. What brought you back?

A: I was blessed with the opportunity to work in South Korea and Japan allowing me to travel and see the world. I wanted to come back to the north for the economic opportunities it provided. I chose Tumbler Ridge because it is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever been to and there was no debate in my mind about where I wanted to raise a young family.

Q:Tumbler Ridge's coal mines have all been placed on care and maintenance recently, resulting in significant job loss in the community. What is the District's approach to getting the local economy back on track?

A: The news of the shutdowns came as a shock and hit us hard but we have been working diligently to create a made in Tumbler Ridge solution. We will be meeting with six Provincial ministers in the coming months to see what can be done to see us through this transition. Reaching out to the business community has also been important. It is easy to lose contact with the disparate projects around Tumbler Ridge when the big coal companies are operating. Tumbler Ridge is more than just coal.

Q:How have developing major projects helped to diversify the local economy and are there other opportunities for wind energy projects in the area to be developed?

A: The prospect for further wind energy in Tumbler Ridge is immense. A new 185 megawatt wind project will begin construction in the spring of 2015. This will come at a very important time for the businesses in our community and those employees looking for work. Although the coal mines are in maintenance mode for the time being, the Quality wind project is still operating. It may not provide the same economic impact as a coal mine, but the jobs are secure.

Q:What advice do you have for young professionals seeking rewarding careers in the Peace region?

A: Coming to the north will be the best decision you can make with your career. The potential for young hard working individuals to succeed is larger here than anywhere else in Canada. The continued economic growth of the region will only increase these opportunities. Employers, no matter the sector, are looking for people who will come in and take charge of their jobs and projects. In this expanding but understaffed regional economy it is easier for someone to make their mark. As has always been true in history, expansion creates opportunities for those willing to take them.

Major industrial projects in central and northern B.C.

Cirque du Soleil is coming to Prince George and we want to give you tickets!

The world-renowned Cirque du Soleil will perform its signature production Dralion this winter in Prince George – kicking off an incredible year of celebrations in the region including the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the 100th anniversary of the City of Prince George, the 25th anniversary of UNBC and the 10th anniversary of Northern Development Initiative Trust.

We will be giving away two tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s January 4, 2015 performance of Dralion at CN Centre to help kick-off an exciting and momentous year for the north!

The contest to win the tickets will begin on Northern Development’s Facebook page in early November. To enter the contest, like us on Facebook and watch for three photos that we will post throughout the month that feature communities and economic development projects from around the region.

As each photo is posted, you must be able to correctly identify the community the photo was taken in and a project that Northern Development helped fund in that community.

The first person to correctly submit all three photo locations and nearby projects will win the tickets!

Hint: the first photo will be posted Monday, November 3rd. Projects that Northern Development has funded can be found on the Trust’s website at

Want to see a sneak peek of what you could win tickets to? Check out a preview of Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion

Funding program video: Marketing Initiatives

The Marketing Initiatives program provides up to $20,000 in grant funding for municipalities, regional districts, First Nations bands, and registered non-profit organizations. Projects must be focused on development and implementation of a marketing initiative that will directly increase revenues within the region.

Features and benefits of the program
• Provides grant funding to support marketing initiatives that directly increase revenue generation within the local or regional economies of central and northern British Columbia.
• Unique funding program for implementing actions identified in a strategic or economic plan for direct revenue generating projects.
• Comprehensive marketing initiative funding for projects that have supporting marketing plans developed.
• Time sensitive approval process for complete and well documented applications.