Rural business services receive federal assistance

HALIFAX: The federal government has approved funding for rural business services in Nova Scotia.

Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and MP for South Shore-St. Margarets, announced on behalf of Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, more than $4.2 million in federal investments for rural communities across Nova Scotia.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is providing nearly $3.3 million to Nova Scotia’s network of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) to cover operating costs related to the delivery of the Community Futures Program, which provides small business loans, tools, training and events for people who want to start, expand, franchise or sell a business.

CBDCs are not-for-profit community-based organizations run by volunteers from the local business community who believe in improving the economic viability of their communities. Among the CBDCs in Nova Scotia receiving a total of $3,290,734 through this program is the Guysborough County CBDC which was approved for $303,294.

The Government of Canada, through ACOA, is contributing $958,865 to the Nova Scotia Association of CBDCs to deliver the province-wide Spark Innovation Challenge over the next two years. The Spark Innovation Challenge offers early-stage seed financing for new technology start-ups in rural areas of Nova Scotia. The program provides mentorship, resources and financing to winning businesses and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in locations outside of urban centres. The Challenge is designed to lead to new job opportunities and sustainable economic growth in rural communities.

Spark began in Cape Breton six years ago to identify promising early-stage startups. Now province-wide, winners receive up to $50,000 in non-repayable funding and guidance from seasoned business professionals.

The funding for the Spark Innovation Challenge is being provided through the Regional Innovation Ecosystems stream of the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program.