The provincial government will double the amount of funding offered in the Partner 4 Growth program this year.
Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostytshyn made the announcement with Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Doug Dobrowolski at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in the Keystone Centre yesterday.
“The money is targeted to economic development within communities,” Kostytshyn said.
The program, which will offer $260,000 compared to $130,000 last year, is broken down into two streams.
One stream will see the government provide grant money for communities and not-for-profit organizations such as economic development agencies and industry, tourism and cultural associations to undertake feasibility studies that might help define regional markets. Groups can apply for up to $8,000.
The second stream will provide communities up to $15,000 to capitalize on any projects and opportunities identified by the study. However, all projects must involve more than one local government as the program is geared toward regional partnerships.
“It’s a tool for the local community and economic development in the region through the province. And we as a government feel it’s important to provide seed dollars to help young entrepreneurs and new businesses coming into geographical areas to have the opportunity to start to use some dollars for the betterment of the economy,” Kostytshyn said.
Last year, a total of 15 grants were awarded to various organizations.
In Westman, the McCreary District Development Board received money to pursue experiential tourism development based on the region’s agriculture, arts, entertainment and recreation.
Other organizations that received funding were the Asessippi Parkland Economic Development Corporation, Birtle and District Community Development Corporation, Birtle’s Classic Garden, the City of Dauphin, Oak Lake and Area Economic Development Board, Parkland Agricultural Resource Co-op, Roblin Shell River Economic Development, Southwest Regional Development Corporation and Rossburn Tourism.
“Sometimes we get this imagery that starting up a business has to be in larger, urban centres,” Kostytshyn said. “What we’re saying is: ‘What can we do to help some smaller communities sustain economic development to keep them alive, because population drives small communities.”
Dobrowolski said economic development is the “lifeblood” of the province.
He expects the program will be oversubscribed as a number of groups have already expressed interest.
“This is a real great starter for some of the smaller communities,” Dobrowolski said. “These dollars have the opportunity to lead to further dollars down the road, so it’s a great first step for small and new business.”
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 3, 2014