March 18, 2005
(Innovation, Trade and Rural Development)
Government announces regional
Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Innovation Trade
and Rural Development and Minister responsible for the Rural Secretariat, said
the Comprehensive Regional Diversification Strategy developed by government will
put all regions of the province on a path to economic prosperity. Minister
Dunderdale released the details of the regional economic strategy at a news
Minister Dunderdale said government has been consulting with the people of the
province over the past year to get their input into what is needed to promote
and support economic development in the various regions of the province.
"What we have developed is a comprehensive plan that draws upon regional
strengths and is complemented by government programs that will help develop
those strengths so that they result in long-term, sustainable employment for the
people of the province," said Minister Dunderdale.
Nine sustainable regions have been identified based on patterns of natural
economic, social and community activity already existing in each region. Factors
such as available infrastructure, number of communities, population, economic
and labour market activity have been taken into account. Each region will have
its own economic development strategy based on its particular strengths. Short,
medium, and long-term strategies will be identified for each region that will
generate new industry, small business, and employment opportunities. These
strategies will be supported by advanced education and training and by applied
research and development appropriate to local industrial opportunities. Over
time, each region will have its own clustering of industries, businesses,
health, education and government services. In this way, people living in
outlying communities will have access to education, training, health care and
employment within reasonable commuting times.
"Government has already developed a number of tools to enhance economic growth
in the province, such as venture capital, and innovation and marine strategies,
that support the implementation of the regional diversification strategy," said
Minister Dunderdale. "To further support the growth of the regions, government
will establish two funds which will address business financing needs and
community and sectorial development."
Government will establish a $10 million revolving fund to finance small and
medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The financing will allow eligible businesses the
opportunity to start up and expand, thereby helping them create and retain
long-term sustainable jobs. The fund will target strategic growth sectors, such
as manufacturing, value-added production, IT, and tourism. In particular, the
fund will target businesses which have export potential and need assistance to
enter or expand in external markets.
The SME fund will be administered through the Business Investment Corporation (BIC),
an arms-length agency that reports to the Minister of Innovation, Trade and
Rural Development. Revenue collected from the fund's current investments will be
retained by the BIC for new investments. To establish the revolving fund,
government has added $7.9 million to the $2.1 million previously allocated for
the Seed Capital Equity Program.
Government has also established a $5 million Regional/Sectorial Diversification
Fund which will address the present funding gaps of sector organizations,
economic development groups and community-based organizations involved in
economic development. Through this fund, government will provide non-repayable
contributions for economic development initiatives that address regional and
sectorial development, diversification and innovation. Funding will be
strategically allocated based upon criteria such as a project's ability to lever
funding from other sources, and whether the project has tangible economic
development benefits. The aim is to contribute to long-term sustainable
employment and the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in each of the
nine regions. Details on program criteria for the revolving and Regional/Sectorial
Diversification funds will be released in the coming weeks.
Government has also increased the budget for the department's Business and
Market Development Program from $500,000 to $1 million. This increase provides
more assistance to entrepreneurs and expanding small businesses to pursue new
business ideas and new markets, including product development, implementing
market strategies and advancing new technologies.
"As a province, we need to start thinking regionally. We need to continue to
develop strong policies and effective programs which accentuate sustainable
regions in all areas of the province as opposed to rural versus urban
development. If we have strong regions, we will have a strong province. The plan
outlined today will lead us toward that goal," said Minister Dunderdale.
Media contact: Lynn Evans, Communications, (709) 729-4570, or 690-6290
2005 03 18