Federal cash up for grabs
Posted By MATTHEW VAN DONGEN , STANDARD STAFF
Posted 7 hours ago
The race is on for local businesses to apply for a new round of federal funding aimed at recession-battered southern Ontario communities.
Gary Goodyear, minister of state for southern Ontario's new federal economic development agency, announced a second round for the Community Adjustment Fund Tuesday morning in downtown St. Catharines.
The first phase of the fund doled out more than $101 million to 90 projects in cities hard-hit by the recession, including about $3 million to expand nGen, the St. Catharines-based Niagara Interactive Media Generator.
The second round is unique, said Goodyear, because $128 million in loans and grants are available for projects submitted by small and medium-sized businesses in addition to non-profits, cities and academic institutions.
"We are looking for businesses to expand, improve competitiveness, perhaps adopt a technology they haven't had the funding to put forward in the past," Goodyear said following the announcement at the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce on St. Paul Street.
"There are a number of good examples (of businesses) right here in St. Catharines that are doing that."
After shedding jobs and companies for years, St. Catharines unfortunately qualifies as a community in need, chamber general manager Walter Sendzik said.
However, he said the city is also bursting with small-and medium-sized businesses ready to bounce back with a little cash encouragement.
"This is perfect for our emerging hi-tech and bio-tech companies, our construction companies that want to retrain workers in green technologies," he said Tuesday.
The chamber has already made its own application for help creating a new website, tentatively namedgobigniagara.com,which would form a one-stop shopping point for local companies seeking project tender information.
Sendzik added the emphasis on rewarding cutting-edge research and development fits in well with the city prosperity council's focus on digital media and biotechnology.
Two other small St. Catharines companies at the announcement were also eyeing a potential loan.
Fourgrounds Media Inc. and Morro Images have already benefited from the federal hard times cash -- they're primed to move into the expanding nGen office space, which was made possible by $3 million from the fund in September.
The two companies are already seeking private investment for a digital TV project they've partnered on, Fourgrounds president Adrian Thiessen said.
"As soon as I heard (Goodyear) make the announcement, the wheels started turning," he said. "I think we'll definitely apply."
Not everyone who applies will get lucky, of course.
Goodyear said he expects the program to be "oversubscribed."
The funding is geared in particular towards small communities hit by big job losses, he said, with priority also given to projects creating "the most jobs per dollar."
The money takes the form of a no-interest loan for private companies, but non-profits and cities generally won't have to repay the cash.
Applications for the job-creating cash will be accepted starting today until Jan. 18 of next year.
For more details on project eligibility, visit www.southernontario.gc.ca.