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