Northern Development and BDC join forces to bolster capital in central and northern BC

Prince George BC, April 21, 2010 – The Northern Development Initiative Trust (Northern Development) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) have signed an agreement to help central and northern BC’s manufacturing businesses and suppliers access up to $200 million in incremental capital over the next decade to grow in today’s global marketplace.

The loan guarantee partnership agreement targets small and medium-sized businesses in central and northern BC’s resource processing, manufacturing and supply sectors. It provides eligible projects and borrowers with the opportunity to access loan guarantees from Northern Development for up to 25% of BDC’s loan amount. A total of $15 million has been set aside by Northern Development for this purpose. This loan guarantee program will expand the capital pool available to small businesses in the region.

“After the credit market collapse of 2008/09, we observed a very slow trend towards more capital availability in our region. Lack of access to capital is preventing strong and emerging businesses from investing in new technology and expansion. This program will position them for the current upward trend in demand for our regional resources and products. We are confident that by teaming up with BDC, Northern Development will further help strengthen the manufacturing sector in the region, which in turn, will create more business and employment opportunities,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair of the Northern Development.

Starting immediately, businesses can work with BDC to see whether their lending needs qualify for this program. All referrals from BDC will have immediate responses from Northern Development and expedited processing. Manufacturers, processors and their direct suppliers in the Northern Development service area, including communities from Lytton north to Fort Nelson and Valemount west to Haida Gwaii, are eligible to apply for this program. Entrepreneurs can apply for financing by contacting BDC branches in Fort St. John, Kamloops, Prince George or Terrace.

“This partnership extends BDC’s reach and level of support to businesses in northern BC,” said Scot Speiser, Vice President and Area Manager, BC Northern Interior and Yukon at BDC. “We want to encourage projects that move businesses up the value chain, improve productivity, enhance competitiveness and tackle new markets. BDC and Northern Development joined forces to provide innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of local entrepreneurs and facilitate their access to financing.”

Industries including wood innovation, bioenergy and the mining supply sector are poised for substantial growth. There have been new provincial policies around access to waste wood and several new mines have recent environmental permit approvals in the region. In addition, wood products and resource manufacturing have new opportunities for export through the Port of Prince Rupert, the newly expanded Prince George Airport, and logistics centres in the region.

Industry leaders from across the North and the BC Government have applauded this new approach to assisting their expansion efforts.

“This new program complements the province’s efforts to diversify our resource sectors and strengthen rural economic development,” said Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell. “This partnership bodes extremely well for the smaller, up-and-coming businesses and entrepreneurs. Their ability to invest in innovative and emerging technologies will allow them to create new jobs and generate more value from our forests and other resources.”

New manufacturing technologies, such as pine beetle concrete developed at the University of Northern BC in Prince George, can also expand commercial manufacturing and jobs in the North as entrepreneurs access this program.

In the first five years of operation, Northern Development has committed $96.8 million into regional investments which have infused $888 million in capital into the region and created over 4,000 jobs in a tough economic environment, all while remaining a sustainable trust for future generations.

About Northern Development The Northern Development Initiative Trust (Northern Development) is an economic funding corporation for central and northern British Columbia that is an initiative of the Province of BC. Northern Development provides the funding and the ability to identify and pursue new opportunities for stimulating economic growth and job creation. Its mandate is to be a catalyst for strategic economic development at the local and regional levels. Its mission is to help northern BC communities create and sustain world-class industries and diversified economies.

About BDC BDC is Canada’s business development bank. From more than 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs.