During Small Business Week in Canada (October 19th – 25th), I would like to take this opportunity as Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) to acknowledge and salute all of the hard-working entrepreneurs of Northern Ontario. These men and women, who dare to dream of becoming business-owners, are the backbone of our Nation’s economy.
Small and medium-sized enterprises account for approximately 98 percent of all businesses in Canada and employ the majority of workers across the country. That is certainly a contribution worth celebrating! It’s also why FedNor, through its Northern Ontario Development Program, continues to work with a variety of partners to assist Northern Ontario businesses with the tools they need to thrive in today’s competitive and international business world.
Exactly one year ago, FedNor launched the Targeted Manufacturing Initiative for Northern Ontario (TMINO) which has attracted a lot of attention in the private business sector. TMINO is designed to help Northern Ontario manufacturers to become more innovative, productive and competitive in the global marketplace.
FedNor also supports the Community Futures Program which plays an important role in the federal government’s strategy for community economic development and small business growth. Northern Ontario’s 24 CFDCs make investments in small and medium-sized businesses, offer much-needed business counselling, and work with business and community partners to develop economic growth opportunities. In partnership with these CFDCs, FedNor is now expanding its very successful Youth Internship Initiative to help private enterprises further benefit from the talent and skills offered by post-secondary graduates.
This past August, I was in Sudbury to announce a FedNor investment to deliver the Mining Supply and Service Export Assistance Program. We all know that mining is a vital sector of Northern Ontario’s economy and the goal of this initiative is to increase the number of exporting firms in the North’s mining supply and service industry, increase the value of exports and improve the capacity of firms to compete globally. The response so far has been impressive as 25 companies from across Northern Ontario have signed up to engage in the training component and receive financial assistance to undertake export marketing and sales initiatives.
Through the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF), FedNor provided $4.4 million over three years to assist and support First Nation communities to take advantage of opportunities associated with the massive mining development known as the Ring of Fire. This initiative supports four key areas: business development; First Nations capacity and skills enhancement; community planning and youth entrepreneurship.
Another way FedNor helps Northern entrepreneurs to succeed is by providing opportunities to generate new business at two of Canada’s premiere industry expositions. From The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto this November, to The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Annual Convention and Trade Show in Toronto next March, more than 100 companies and organizations representing the agriculture and mining sectors will showcase their products and services to thousands of visitors and industry representatives from across Canada and around the world.
Through national initiatives such as the Small Business Job Credit, announced last month, our Government is taking action to make small businesses stronger by lowering taxes for business owners and making it easier for them to create jobs for Canadians.
As FedNor continues to work with community partners to support initiatives that encourage increased business development, we also take this opportunity to recognise and celebrate the vital role small businesses play in the economic well-being of Northern Ontario and indeed the entire country.
– Greg Rickford, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for FedNor