The manager of community economic development for the Qalipu First Nation Band says major project development in this province — primarily Hebron and Muskrat Falls — has the ability to significantly influence the economy of the west coast.
“Just because you are not a Tier 1 company, doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of Tier 1 opportunities,” he said following Mawio’mi 2013, the Aboriginal Entrepreneur’s Business Forum, in Corner Brook Thursday.
“There will be a lot of sub-contracts that will be derived from Muskrat Falls in particular, so the opportunities are huge. We saw that the benefits are going to be in the multi-billions and the employment opportunities are going to be in the thousands. The opportunities are endless really for our entrepreneurs.”
About 80 people attended the forum, hearing presentations from industry and government representatives. There were officials with Emera Newfoundland and Labrador, Nalcor Energy and Exxon Mobile, as will as representatives from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada; Innovation, Business and Rural Development, and Public Works and Government Services Canada presenting.
“I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Nalcor, in particular, has targeted some development work for the west coast of Newfoundland,” Eldridge said. “The aboriginal entrepreneurs on the west coast, if they aren’t able to participate as a Tier 1 company, certainly can participate as Tier 2 or Tier 3 companies and in partnership with other companies to bid on some of these contract opportunities.”
The Qalipu First Nation Band is about to launch a business network for its membership to share resources and avail of opportunities to partner on those larger contracts.
Meanwhile, during Thursday’s forum, the organization launched Ginu — a state-of-the art interactive database. It is designed as a labour market service for all band members and any employers. The database tracks members’ education, training and work experience, while also offering potential employers a chance to post jobs and reach out to members.
“Ginu serves a vital purpose for band members,” Chief Brendan Sheppard said. “We have many people spread out over a wide area. Using technology such as electronic databases and online access allows us to serve all our members with equal effectiveness.”