Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) announced two new funding programs to support innovation projects together providing up to $1.65 million annually in grant funding for industries and communities throughout central and northern B.C.
These funds are part of the ongoing response to mitigate the economic impact of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, with priority given to projects within the regions and communities most impacted by the pine beetle and decreasing timber supply.
Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen is in his third term as NDIT Director, and on their regional advisory committee. “We as NDIT really spent a lot of time trying to understand how to make communities viable and vibrant, and we developed the criteria on these two funds; one for industries that are looking to be creative and the other for communities,” says Thiessen.
“This is coming out of the Pine Beetle recovery account, which is $30 million dollars set aside for communities and industries affected by the mountain pine beetle. Now we are starting to use it and help communities access it,” says Thiessen.
Northern Industries Innovation Fund
Up to $750,000 is now available annually to support innovation projects across a variety of northern industries.
A rebate of up to $50,000 to a maximum of 50% of a project’s budget for small and medium enterprises deploying innovative technologies in industries such as mining, energy, agriculture, aquaculture and forestry.
By supporting applied research, the development of new or improved products /services and the testing of innovative equipment or technologies, the program will help the northern B.C. businesses improve their competitiveness, generate incremental revenue and create jobs.
“The fortunate thing is we do have a number of companies both in forestry and manufacturing that are doing really innovative things, for example, Freflyte, Nechako Mechanical – some of the things they have done, Vanderhoof Specialty Woods using more of the fibre basket to be as innovative as possible. Those are the kinds of things that the innovation fund will help,” says Thiessen.
Strategic Initiatives Fund
This is a new proposal-based program with $900,000 available annually for up to 80% of a project’s value to support strategic projects that allows municipalities and First Nations long-term economic transformation and sustainability.
Ideal projects are large scale, have a regional in impact, and enhance a community or multiple communities’ economic capacity or strategic economic infrastructure.
“What we need to look at is what are those things in our communities that are going to make us more vibrant. In the area of tourism we are going to be looking at what we can do to help our service industry. For example, what can we do to encourage more hotel rooms in our community? Some weekends we see people having to stay in Prince George and travel out for activities here because they couldn’t find accommodation. So we’re doing work with the grant writer to get applications in [for the March 15 deadline]” says Thiessen.