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The Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade lobbied in pre-budget consultations for investment in entrepreneurship and small business, so Thursday was a pleasant day for its president.
Budget 2014 has more than $210 million in economic development initiatives, including two Venture Capital Funds to provide support and expand opportunities for innovative start-up businesses.
“When people are starting business, you don’t have a lot of funds,” Matthew Connolly said. “You may have the best idea in the world, but it takes money to get going.
“The fact there is going to be some funds available, this will get them off the ground without that big debt load on their back.”
The provincial government will establish two Venture Capital Funds with $10 million to support Build Ventures, and a commitment to establish a Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund with venture capital stakeholders.
Few details were released on the the Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund, except to say it will be used to help provincially-based technology companies and start-ups. Also, it will be created in partnership with Growthworks Atlantic, the Newfoundland and Labrador Angel Network and other, unnamed investors.
Details on the Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund “will be announced in the near future,” according to the government documents.
Innovation, Business and Rural Development Minister Terry French said the announced $10 million in spending into Build Ventures will be spread over five to seven years.
“The $10 million is not a $10 million cheque today,” he said. “The first portion I think is $2.9 million.”
He said venture capital successes can be big, with a small collection able to spur whole new business sectors. Budget 2014 also includes $72 million for tax credits and incentives for businesses, and about $45.5 million to support business development and stimulate growth.
The Corner Brook Board of Trade has been preaching the need to diversify the local economy, and Connolly believes this budget will help do that.
Government is making investments of more than $1 billion to diversify local economies and strengthen the business climate.
With $500,000 earmarked to study safe radiation services delivery in western Newfoundland, Connolly is optimistic that is a response to the local lobby for that particular cancer treatment unit to be included in the new hospital.
“We do have a concern here,” he said. “I am a cancer survivor, and I know the value of having that equipment here for people. By all means, get that in here, we could really use it.”
With files from The Telegram