Burns Lake businesses that have been affected by the economic downtown in the forest products industry may be eligible for a rebate program offered by the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT).
The program aims to help small and medium sized businesses recover the costs of third-party consulting projects that focus on ways to sustain their operations.
The forestry affected business consulting rebate reimburses up to 75 per cert of the costs of contracted consulting services to a maximum of $15,000.
Since the program was launched in August, six projects have already been approved, but none of them were from the Burns Lake area, said Felicia Magee, NDIT’s director of business development.
The program will continue to be offered in 2020, said Magee, noting it has generated a lot of interest from businesses across NDIT’s service region.
Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk said the village is currently working with NDIT to understand the eligibility requirements and how the program may be of benefit to the local business community.
Funk said direct suppliers and forestry related businesses would benefit most from the rebate program as they have concerns about potential mill closures and curtailments, but noted the area’s retail and tourism industries have not identified forestry decline as a major challenge.
According to the village’s latest Business Walk, which received input from 52 business owners across various sectors, the vast majority of businesses (86 per cent) said their operations have been “steady” or “increasing.”
“Accommodation and hospitality related businesses are reporting dramatic increases in their business attributed to camp construction in Burns Lake,” said Funk.
Joel McKay, NDIT’s CEO, said the agency is “very aware” of the potential economic impacts mill closures and curtailments may have on communities.
“This program seeks to help offset those impacts and sustain our communities during this difficult time,” McKay said.
Only eligible businesses in some industries located in NDIT’s service region may apply for the rebate program. These include businesses with less than 500 employees and annual revenues of less than $100 million, as well as First Nations businesses.
Some of the eligible industries include retail, tourism operators, hospitality, accommodations, agriculture, ranching and manufacturing.
Northern Development’s region covers approximately seventy per cent of the province. The region encompasses 39 municipalities, nine regional districts, one regional municipality and 88 First Nations communities.
For more information about the forestry affected business consulting rebate, visit www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca.