March heading into April 2020 has not been typical for Northern B.C., the province or the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of health care, education, essential services and business. At Northern Development, we have begun a “new normal”, working remotely when possible while still maintaining contact with our clients and each other.
For the past few weeks, the majority of inquiries to our office have been regarding programs for businesses, what is available and what can Northern Development do to assist our local entrepreneurs?
This newsletter will focus on what is available to businesses in our region, including our newly announced Small Business Recovery (SBR) Consulting Rebate program. All of our programs are available online as well at northerndevelopment.bc.ca/apply-for-funding/.
On April 8, 2020, Northern Development announced they had adjusted the Forestry Affected Business (FAB) Consulting Rebate to include businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly named Small Business Recovery (SBR) Consulting Rebate program is designed to help businesses access the professional support they need to weather the current economic downturn. Continue reading for a Q & A about SBR with Northern Development’s Director of Business Development, Felicia Magee.
Q: What was the motivation to create this program?
A: This program was really created out our desire to support businesses in our region without duplicating resources already being offered by other organizations or levels of government. By retooling the consultant rebate program that we have offered for the past nine years, we created an easy to access program that allows small businesses to engage in projects that that support short-term sustainability while investing in long-term resiliency.
Q: What are the key points of the program?
A: First and foremost, reach out to our staff to determine if the project you want to start will align with the project before you start! The application process is easy, but it needs to be started before the project. If approved for funding, it is important to remember this is a grant in the form of a rebate. Meaning, the project would be completed, and the consultant would be paid, prior to receiving the reimbursement. The program can reimburse up to 85 per cent of the project costs to a maximum of $25,000, for projects that focus on business sustainability.
Q: How will this benefit businesses who are struggling right now?
A: The SBR program allows businesses to invest in operations, systems and planning for immediate and long-term benefit. It also reduces the barrier for businesses to access external professional advice and expertise. It is completely understandable that business owners are not experts in every aspect of operational and strategic planning and engaging a third-party expert can provide valued and customized input and assistance for continued growth and profitability.
Q: Can you give some examples of projects that would fall under this program?
A: The program can support projects such as the development and transition to e-commerce platforms. Developing and implementing networks and operational systems to support remote working. Cashflow forecast and financial modelling, developing and implemented financial process improvements. Business coaching and strategic planning. Market development. Marketing strategies.
The program guide provides a list of eligible projects types but our team is happy to have conversations with businesses about their unique challenges and proposed solutions to see if there is an alignment with the program. Before a business self-assesses their project is ineligible, reach out to us first!
Q: What has the response been so far to SBR?
A: The response to the program has been very positive. Daily, our team is talking to businesses across the north about potential projects and coaching businesses through not only the application process but thinking about the overall project activities and defining what success looks like upon completion.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: We welcome your calls and emails to discuss the program. Please reach out to us!
For more information or to apply, please visit the SBR program page on the Trust’s website.
Northern Development has partnered with Think Local First, Vancity, the BC Economic Development Association and LOCO BC for SupportLocalBC.com – a website where you can purchase gift cards for all of your local favourite businesses for future use.
Through this program, all Love Northern BC businesses are eligible to sign up at no cost. Those who wish can simply go to SupportLocalBC.com and click on the business or businesses they would like to buy gift cards from. Once purchased, the gift cards are emailed for use anytime. In addition, for a minimum $25 gift card purchase, Northern Development will provide an additional $25 gift card. At the end of each month, businesses will be issued cheques for the gift cards that were purchased.
These gift cards are non-refundable and do not expire.
We encourage everyone to visit this site and purchase gift cards as a way to assist our local businesses who are owned by our friends and family in Northern B.C.
Northern Development has created a resource page on its website that offers links to different finance websites, webinars and other organizations offering support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This page is updated consistently to provide businesses with the most up-to-date information available.
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