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April 7, 2006
(Innovation, Trade and Rural Development)

Task force helping rebuild Bay St. George economy

Innovation, Trade and Rural Development (INTRD) Minister Kathy Dunderdale today released the details of training, agriculture and tourism initiatives that will help stimulate economic activity in the Bay St. George region. Minister Dunderdale made the announcement today on behalf of the Bay St. George Task Force.

New and expanded training programs have been identified for the Marine Institute of Memorial University�s Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre. The tourism sector will be enhanced through the establishment of business networks and an interpretation centre, and the agriculture industry will form a cooperative and develop a marketing strategy. Approximately $750,000 has been allocated from INTRD�s Regional/Sectoral Diversification Fund (RSDF) and $13,000 from its Business and Market Development Program (BMDP) to assist with the implementation of these projects.

"The task force is working hard to help rebuild the economy of the Bay St. George region," said Minister Dunderdale, chair of the task force. "The task force has made significant progress in the past few months, but there is still much to be done. We have been moving forward as quickly as possible to create and identify opportunities, such as those we are announcing today, that benefit the economy of this region."

"Today's update consists of several diverse opportunities and advancements for a number of sectors," said Joan Burke, Minister of Education and MHA for St. George�s-Stephenville East. "Through continued creativity and concentration, initiatives such as these have great promise for strengthening and growing our economy. These announcements do not represent the full solution, but are building blocks for a stable and prosperous future."

"The three committees of the task force are working together to ensure that our region has a solid future," said Cyril Organ, chair of the task force�s Community Development Committee. "Our communities have to work together as a team to find ways to rebuild our local economy. Each of the projects we�re announcing today is part of a larger plan to help rebuild the economy of the region. All have the potential to diversify our economy, but we must continue to work toward even more opportunities for our region."

"Together, we have to secure long-term solutions that will generate employment opportunities and stabilize our economy. It is encouraging to see the people of Bay St. George�s work together for the future of the region," said Jim Hodder, Port au Port MHA.

Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre

The Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre of the Marine Institute, will expand its program offering to position it provincially and nationally as a comprehensive first response emergency training centre. Government will invest $550,000 for this initiative, which will create six jobs. The new programs include:

  • Advanced Marine Emergency Duties Course provides seafarers with an understanding of the hazards associated with the marine environment and their vessels;
  • The Firefighting and Recruitment Program is an entry-level program designed to provide recruits with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to enable them to successfully compete for employment in the fire service; and,
  • The Fire Investigation Course will allow students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to investigate fire accidents.
  • Agriculture
    A farmers� cooperative for Bay St. George South is expected to be incorporated within the next two weeks, helping to sustain 21 jobs. The co-op will develop a marketing strategy for local meat and vegetable products and compile an agricultural inventory for the region. The Department of Natural Resources will hire an agricultural representative over the coming months to support the development of the local agriculture industry for the Bay St. George region. Agrifoods and agriculture are strategic growth sectors for the province, as demonstrated by investments of approximately $9 million recently allocated in the provincial budget.

    The provincial government has allocated over $152,000 to the St. George�s Indian Band Council to help establish a Mi�kmaq Cultural Interpretation Centre in St. George�s. The funding is being used for renovations, currently underway, to the former courthouse. This initiative will create two full-time and four part-time positions.

    In partnership with the provincial government, the Long Range Regional Economic Development Board recently established a business network among the roofed accommodations owners in the area to enhance the local tourism sector. The network will participate in joint marketing efforts and create a multi-media CD-ROM that provides a virtual tour of all roofed accommodations in the region. The network will also contribute to the completion of a tourism strategy for the area. A facilitator has also been hired to coordinate these initiatives, making the total investment $27,000 for the newly-created position and the development of the strategy.

    Government has allocated $13,500 to Bay St. George Chamber of Commerce to write a concept plan for the development of a Geological Interpretation Centre for the Blanche Brook Fossil Forest Site and several other geological attractions in the Bay St. George-Port au Port region. The Blanche Brook Fossil site has the potential to become a major tourist attraction for the region.

    Business Retention and Expansion/Downtown Revitalization
    Through this project, businesses on Main Street in Stephenville have been interviewed to gain insight into their future plans with regard to retention and expansion. The results from the interviews will assist Stephenville�s Business Improvement Association with their revitalization plans. As Stephenville is the business hub for the Bay St. George region, the retention of existing business is vital to the entire region. This project will address the issue of developing a business retention strategy and put in place the necessary steps to develop a strategy for downtown revitalization as a key factor in maintaining and attracting businesses to the area. Government has provided almost $5,000 to the Long Range Regional Economic Development Board to carry out this project.

    Under BMDP, INTRD has approved two additional business projects for the area. Emile Farms Limited will receive approximately $8,000 to develop and implement marketing initiatives to raise awareness about its agriculture products. East Coast Trailer Worx will use $5,000 in funding to demonstrate its unique motorcycle trailer prototype at industry trade shows, and gather essential market research and feedback.

    Other activities are being carried out to address the individual human resource needs of workers including training action plans, human resource development strategies for individuals directly and indirectly impacted by the mill closure, and the investigation of a mobile workforce.

    The task force was established to assist the economic development and recovery of the Bay St. George region following Abitibi Consolidated�s shutdown of its Stephenville mill. The focus of the task force is to build on the strengths of the region and build upon the successes of businesses in the area.

    Media contact: Lynn Evans, Communications, (709) 729-4570, 690-6290

    2006 04 07                                       9:40 a.m.

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