Funding provides northern Alberta entrepreneurs with the advice and tools they need to mitigate COVID-19 impacts on their businesses.
November 12, 2020 – Edmonton, Alberta – Western Economic Diversification Canada
From the outset, the Government of Canada has taken action to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to protect their contributions to the Canadian economy. One measure of support is the $1.5 billion Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), delivered by Canada’s Regional Development Agencies and intended for small- and medium-sized enterprises that have been unable to access other federal relief measures, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.
The pandemic has created new barriers and challenges for northern Alberta businesses, including access to capital, and there has been strong demand for RRRF funding. The traditional broad range of supports available to entrepreneurs through the business ecosystem, such as industry associations and chambers of commerce, face their own pandemic-related challenges. These not-for-profit organizations, best placed to identify and nurture locally relevant initiatives that meet regional needs, are struggling at the time that they are needed most.
Support for the business ecosystem
Today, the Honourable Jim Carr, the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for the Prairies, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), announced over $3.2 million for business ecosystem support in northern Alberta. This RRRF funding for 17 organizations will ultimately support enterprises in all stages of the business lifecycle, from nurturing start-ups to the ongoing development of mature firms. Many of the programs being funded are already under way, bringing immediate support for local companies, and making a difference for families and communities across the West.
Today’s funding supports over 1,200 jobs through the programs they deliver. This contributes to the Government’s campaign to create one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels.
For example, funding is enabling the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to help local chambers outside of Edmonton and Calgary to increase their capacity to deliver supports and services, while also engaging with businesses directly to better understand how to strengthen small business resiliency. In addition, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce will provide digital knowledge and skills training to members to improve their resiliency to future economic shocks. In the Fort McMurray region, Community Futures Wood Buffalo is developing and delivering a coaching and professional services program for businesses affected by COVID-19, the 2020 Spring Flood, and other economic challenges.
This RRRF funding complements existing programs offered by WD, such as the WES Ecosystem Fund and the Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) program. RRRF will help industry sectors retain the knowledge and skills of valuable employees, and maintain the capital flows and supply chains needed to build back better in an economic recovery.