Grow Bond initiative a good one

Last Friday, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced in Thunder Bay the Northern Ontario Grow Bonds initiative—a pilot project for the north that was spearheaded by the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce.
It is part of the Northern Prosperity Plan designed to stimulate jobs, industry expansion, and the quality of life for people living in the north.
Manitoba and Nova Scotia already have bond programs that are backed by the province to encourage the citizens of those provinces to invest in their communities.
Ontario is hoping that northern residents will invest $20 million into the fund. The province would guarantee the funds.
When NOACC lobbied for the program, former president Tannis Drysdale, now a Fort Frances councillor, noted, “The strengths of the north, with our vast acres of rich forests and minerals, also has served to delay our progress as we attempt to diversify economies.
“Because the opportunities for investment are spread across an expansive land mass, the necessary linkages between these funds or urban angel investors with northern entrepreneurs has not occurred.
“Simply, the costs of exploring and maintaining relationships with businesses locating in our remote northern communities have proven to be prohibitive.”
The program requires that businesses must build or expand in the north and create full-time jobs. Businesses would be able to borrow up to $1 million in capital, which could be used in conjunction with other provincial and federal programs.
NOACC lobbied for a program to make it specific for Northern Ontario. Last Friday, it succeeded with the premier’s announcement. It is now up to northern residents to step up to the plate and begin investing.
In Rainy River District, more than one project has been put on hold because local investors could not come up with the funds to begin the industry. Hopefully, with this new trial project, that barrier to start-up or business expansion will be removed.
The program is not likely to be available for northern residents to invest in during this tax year, but beginning in 2005, Northern Ontario residents could begin making their investments.
We will be investing in our future—and the future of our children.

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