The federal funding agency that subsidizes economic development initiatives in Northern Ontario considers its level of support in 2020 “unprecedented.”
In a year-end reflection examining its contributions throughout the year, FedNor reported it’s invested more than $122 million in 294 initiatives led by local businesses, organizations and communities.
That investment has supported 7,300 jobs in Northern Ontario.
Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly, who also oversees the FedNor portfolio, said much of that investment went into supporting businesses that were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to assure Northern Ontario businesses that while our government manages this health crisis, we will be there to support you for as long as it takes, with whatever it takes, and we will get through this together,” Joly said in a Dec. 22 news release.
Of the funding, $71 million was funnelled through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), which directly targets businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The funding agency said more than 700 businesses and organizations in the North have benefitted from RRRF funding through FedNor and the local Community Futures Development Corporations.
Relief funds helped mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, keeping operations running and staff working, said FedNor, name-dropping recipients such as Timehero of Sudbury and Amik Outposts located near Red Lake, along with the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise in Thunder Bay and the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.
FedNor has also made some significant investments through ongoing programs like the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) stream, including $5 million for Sault Ste. Marie’s Tenaris Algoma Tubes, $5 million for First Cobalt Corporation, $1.5 million for North Bay’s Norgalv Ltd., and $1 million for Parry Sound-based manufacturer Connor Industries.
The REGI program helps entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
“This has been a difficult year for Northern Ontarians, but by working together, we will get through this and get our economy back on track,” said Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan, who’s also parliamentary secretary to Joly.
“Our government has made unprecedented investments in 2020 through FedNor to enable companies and their workers, First Nations and communities, to overcome the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for a solid and lasting economic recovery.”