CORNER BROOK The group tasked with overseeing the operation of the Humber Economic Development Board (HEDB) has a lot of work to do over the next three weeks as it works on a plan for the future.
Board chairperson Glenda Garnier said Friday part of that plan could involve reaching out to the municipalities it serves.
“The organization has contributed to this region substantially,” said Garnier, who moved from vice-chair to chair at HEDB’s annual general meeting earlier this week.
“It’s been involved in a number of key programs and the development of infrastructure that has benefitted the region.”
Garnier said there is no other organization like HEDB that is so regional in scope, representing the Bay of Islands, the City of Corner Brook, the Humber Valley and White Bay.
“So we think this organization is key and has been doing some good work and it needs to continue.”
But this is a critical time for the organization with funding continuation up in the air.
HEDB has traditionally been funded by the federal and provincial governments on a 75/25 per cent funding formula. Last year the total funding received was just over $200,000.
In May the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the federal funding partner, announced it will cut its core funding to all regional economic development boards (REDBs) in this province by May 21, 2013. The board has already signed its funding agreement with ACOA to take it through to then.
On the heels of that loss the provincial government, through the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, announced this week it was cutting its funding to HEDB as of July 16.
While nothing is guaranteed, Garnier said it looks like ACOA will pick up the loss of funding from the province for this year.
“If we can make a justification for it. If we can show that we need it in order to complete what we’re going to do be doing.”
With its funding eliminated the board has until July 16 to submit a transition plan to ACOA that will indicate if it is going to continue or if it will wind up the organization.
Garnier said the board has unanimously decided to continue.
“So in that transition plan we’ll have to outline how we’ll continue and what we’re gonna to over the next year to ensure the group is viable.
“We’ve got to give in broad strokes what we see as being the process to take in order for us look at some form of sustainability.”
To develop the transition plan, HEDB will consult with local groups and organizations like municipalities, economic development organizations, local businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Trying to get a feel for how valuable they see the organization, what they could possibly contribute.”
Garnier said HEDB will also look at some of its own initiatives to see whether or not they can provide funding to the organization.
The Business Wings program for new entrepreneurs is one area the board thinks could present opportunities to generate money.
Looking directly to municipalities, possibly for funding or in-kind contributions, is another option that will be looked at.
“There are lots of possibilities and we don’t really want to offer up suggestions to municipalities at this time because that would preclude the discussions that we’re gonna have,” said Garnier. “But we think there’s possibilities.”