Small businesses to benefit from $2 Million FedNor investment

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River announced on Tuesday that the Government of Canada is investing a total of $2 million in support of the Atikokan Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and the Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC). These are two of the 24 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) supported by FedNor in Northern Ontario.

The investment will help create and maintain up to 306 local jobs and support business and community economic development and growth in municipalities in the Atikokan and Rainy River regions.

The AEDC will be receiving $1.5 million which will support its operations for a five-year period. This investment will enable the organization to support community strategic planning initiatives and provide small and medium-sized businesses with access to business counselling services.

Over the next five years, the AEDC is expected to support more than 102 businesses, while helping to create up to 39 jobs and maintain 71 more in the region.

The RRFDC will receive an investment of $500,000 that will offer financing to new or existing small businesses and social enterprises to help create jobs in the Fort Frances region. The investment is expected to assist more than 32 businesses to start up, scale up or maintain operations, while helping to create up to 86 jobs and maintain an additional 110 more throughout the area.

“This is a good economic investment, because you put some money into a business to start a business and that business prospers for years and years. And business will create jobs, which are taxed by the federal government. And those businesses will put money into the economy. So certainly, this is a good investment for the government.” Powlowski said.

Louis Bujold president of the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association said as the only beef organization in Ontario that owns and operates a sales barn he thanks RRFDC for their assistance this year, and in the past.

“It starts with an idea, with a bunch of people getting around the table and saying, what can we do to improve things, so that’s where it starts,” Bujold said. “These things start from the roots up, and the idea of government is to support and get down to the grassroots and listen to the people.”

Bujold said work on the sales barn has been going well and there are soon to be big changes at the sales barn that they are excited for, adding that the facility will be more efficient and safer when it is finished.

Venkata Kommina Naga, owner and operator of Atikokan News Stand shared his experience with the AEDC as a small business owner recounting how they helped him to invest in his business.

“I am grateful for the financial aid and business counselling that I have received from [AEDC] that enabled me to purchase the Atikokan News Stand. As owner of the Main Street convenience store, I have fulfilled my dream of becoming an entrepreneur,” Naga said.

Jim Turner, board chair of the AEDC said businesses like Naga’s are the backbone of northern Ontario.

“We don’t have box stores or many chains here,” Turner said. “Mom-and-pop businesses are what keep our economy going and what people in our community depend on for their needs on a daily basis. If we didn’t have those businesses, this community would slowly become what many others have over the years as their economies have dwindled.”