Forest Innovation Fund Benefitting Northern Companies
Prince George, B.C. – Northern Development Initiative Trust celebrated the success of its Forest Innovation Fund at the College of New Caledonia today.
The fund was announced in March and commits $1 million in funding over a two-year period for small and medium-sized companies and community forests engaged in resource extraction, resource processing and supply chain activities related to the forestry sector.
The goal was to address the devastating impact of the mountain pine beetle infestation and to support innovative ways of doing business moving forward.
In the eight months since the program was announced, about $486,000 – or 97 per cent of available funding – was approved for companies in the central and northern Interior said CEO Joel McKay.
“That’s benefitted 12 companies. Those companies are based in multiple communities – we’re a regional trust – so we’re always trying to support not just companies here in Prince George, but companies also in our surrounding areas. Especially in pine beetle impacted communities.”
The Forest Innovation Fund provides 50% of a project’s budget to a maximum of $50,000 in grant funding. Companies must be privately owned, have fewer than 500 employees, and have annual revenue of less than $100 million to qualify for support.
One of those companies was LM Forestry Resource Solutions Ltd out of Smithers which received $45,000.
Owner Larry McCulloch said $7,000 was spent on a thermal camera while the rest went towards wages.
Not surprisingly, he’s a big booster of the program.
“Oh, it’s a fantastic incentive for people to start generating ideas. Small companies like mine, we can bring some insights – and I’m not saying the large companies can’t – but we can bring insights that are equally important or more important and it would be a pity if that kind of stuff didn’t surface because of relatively small funding barriers.”
The provincial Liberal government created NDIT back in 2005 (though it operates independent from government) and Jobs Minister Shirley Bond said she was glad to see its fulfilling its mandate.
“The government’s vision for NDIT was to ensure that there’s an investment in northern, B.C. that northerners have influence in how that money is spent,” she said.
“And I think this is a really good example of it. When we have an innovation fund like this, we can see incredible partnerships led by mostly northern British Columbians. The vision behind it was to make sure we’re growing the economy, that we have a sustainable and strong future for the forestry sector and for other economies in northern, B.C.”
NDIT is now accepting applications for grant funding in 2017.