On November 13, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) announced funding to provide Saskatchewan entrepreneurs with the advice and tools they need to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.
Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (WD) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency), announced $1.9 million for business ecosystem support in Saskatchewan. This WD funding comes from the 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 Saskatchewan 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.
The funding in this announcement goes to 24 not-for-profit organizations that help local businesses survive and thrive. The organizations include:
- Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada Inc.
- Ag-West Bio Inc.
- Alliance of Manufacturers & Exporters Canada
- Canadian Western Agribition Association
- Creative Saskatchewan
- Economic Development Regina Inc.
- Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
- International Minerals Innovation Institute
- Keewatin Community Development Association Inc.
- New North SANC Service Inc.
- North Saskatoon Business Association
- Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute
- Regina & District Chamber of Commerce
- Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce
- Saskatchewan Economic Development Association
- Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network Inc.
- Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre
- Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies
- Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association
- Saskatchewan Mining Association Inc.
- Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association Inc.
- Saskatchewan Science Centre
- Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority Inc.
- Valhalla Global Accelerator Ltd.
The services these organizations provide include mentoring, networking, skills training, market intelligence and transitioning to a digital marketplace.
The funding supports over 340 jobs directly in the funded organizations, as well as many more in the small businesses that benefit from the programs they deliver. The organizations will support over 2,600 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.
“Across the Prairies, COVID-19 has caused pain and anxiety for small businesses and the people they employ,” says Duguid. “The Government of Canada is helping business organizations in the community plant seeds of hope, giving many small businesses the tools they need to respond to the challenges this pandemic has thrown at us.”
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.