For the thousandth time, yes, NDIT will give you money for your economic development idea.
The idea has to have a solid business plan, and the idea has to be for the long-term benefit of the region, but the Northern Development Initiative Trust carefully doles out funds (and other services) to stimulate local economies all across northern B.C. They just cut cheque No. 1,000.
"One thousand projects funded - yes, it feels good," said NDIT's CEO Janine North. "Our strategic goal at the outset was to hit that mark within 10 years and we did it in seven. It is gratifying to see many of our strategic goals arrive much faster than expected. Certainly the amount of capital that has gone into those projects, the amount of money that's been leveraged is far beyond our expectations."
The original leveraging goal (matching grants, extra investment triggered by NDIT's contribution, etc.) would be in the $2.50-to-$1 range but, said North, it has been almost $10 gained for every $1 from NDIT.
The funding has gone to a portfolio of projects as diverse as a community-owned movie theatre in Burns Lake, to high-speed internet for Wells, to the relaunch of a sawmill in Fort St. James. It has gone to repair community halls, hire economic development and human resources consultants, and to pay for professional grant writers that gave scads of initiatives the best possible shot (many of them successful) at winning grant money from other sources.
"When you see the diversity of the projects, that is exciting to watch," North said. "And Northern Development Initiative Trust has the same amount of money in the bank today as it did when it was first created." The total stands at about $185 million.
The project that happened to land in the 1,000th spot was the epitome of the NDIT mandate. NDIT was part of the funding to revamp a seafood factory in Bella Bella, N'usi Seafood, owned and operated by the Heiltsuk Nation under the auspices of the Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation.
The CEO of the HEDC is former Prince George Citizen of the Year Ray Gerow.
This project is much more than just a fish plant - it is the backbone of our efforts to revitalize the central coast fishing and marine industry, and will be the main driver for the economy of this village, Gerow said.
The trust was able to help the plant hire highly qualified consultants to develop food safety systems, human resource manuals, operating procedures and a marketing plan to ensure a successful startup.
According to NDIT data, there have been $110 million worth of these contributions, resulting in the creation of more than 5,100 jobs, and a full spectrum of partnership investment worth more than $1 billion. Almost 75 per cent of the 1,000 investments were to communities like Bella Bella with populations smaller than 5,000 people.