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Northerners brainstorm capital ideas.

When business leaders from across Northern Ontario were asked last fall to discuss specific challenges facing their communities, one issue came up time and again--access to capital. FedNor has a number of initiatives underway to address this barrier to business growth and job creation in Northern Ontario.

Business owners and entrepreneurs have access to funding from a network of 57 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) based in Northern Ontario and rural southern Ontario. In the last five years, these CFDCs have invested more than $90 million through loans and business counselling services to help small- and medium-sized enterprises create and maintain over 12,700 jobs.

Funded by Industry Canada/FedNor, CFDCs implement long-term community development initiatives, employ local staff and are governed by volunteer directors representative of their community.

Last May, the Honourable Andy Mitchell, Secretary of State (Rural Development) (FedNor), announced a FedNor investment of more than $6.5 million to CFDCs located throughout Northern Ontario. Of this total, $4.8 million will be used to support ongoing operations of 13 organizations, while $1.7 million will be used for investment activities in support of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Dan Borowec, President of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations says, "Northern Ontario CFDCs have helped communities take charge of their economic future, thanks to FedNor's financial support and the dedicated efforts of volunteers and staff."

Another access to capital initiative from the Government of Canada Action Plan for Northern Ontario is a new venture capital pilot that will provide advisory services to SMEs to get them venture capital-ready. A further match-making component will assist businesses in identifying and securing much needed venture capital sources. Additionally, financial assistance in reducing transaction costs on venture capital deals will ensure a more level playing field for Northern Ontario businesses.

In September, seven CFDCs in Northwestern Ontario followed the lead of their counterparts in the Northeast by forming a shared investment pool. This partnership will provide CFDCs with greater loan capacity. The success of the Northeast Investment Pool has resulted in over $7 million in projects ranging from those in the resource sector to manufacturing and tourism. Similarly, the Northwest Investment Pool will be an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs in rural regions to explore small business start up or expansion, and to help generate revenue and create jobs for Northern Ontario.

By working in partnership with CFDCs, commercial lenders, and business leaders, FedNor will continue to help Northern Ontario communities compete more effectively in attracting needed investment capital and employment opportunities.
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Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:420
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