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FedNor funding to boost Kenora region businesses

FedNor renews operating funding for three Northwestern Ontario community futures corporations.

FedNor has announced continued funding for three Kenora-region community futures corporations, helping local businesses and non-profits access capital, business counselling, and other supports.

The federal agency announced over $6.6 million in funding Friday, much of it stretched over five years, for the Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation, Chukuni Communities Development Corporation, and Patricia Area Community Endeavours.

Most of that funding simply provides continued operating grants for the three agencies at the same levels they’ve been at for several years, while some additional one-time funding will support loans and new initiatives.

The funding will support more than 400 businesses and help create or maintain up to 1,155 jobs across the region, FedNor claimed in a release.

The Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation will receive $1.5 million in operating funding over five years, maintaining a $300,000 yearly operating budget.

LOWBIC will also receive one-time funding of $1 million to support loans for start-ups and small businesses in the Kenora region, which executive director Ryan Reynard said would be added to an existing investment fund.

Red Lake-based Chukuni Communities Development Corporation will also receive $1.5 million over five years in operating funding.

FedNor also announced Chukuni will receive $750,000 to support financing for small businesses and social enterprises in Red Lake, Ear Falls, and the surrounding areas

Meanwhile, the Patricia Area Community Endeavours (PACE) will receive $1.6 million in operating dollars over five years, maintaining its current level of funding.

PACE’s service area includes the towns of Ignace, Machin, Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Pickle Lake, as well as the Lac Seul, Eagle Lake, and Wabigoon Lake First Nations.

The agency will also receive $258,786 to hire a program coordinator to create and launch three new business programs designed to support entrepreneurs through mentorship, remote work transitions, and access to business incubator services.

"What we're hoping to do is assist businesses in transition, but also help counteract retirements," said PACE executive director Caroline Goulding. 

A number of area business owners will soon be retiring, and the agency hopes to build peer-to-peer business counselling opportunities to help share their expertise with newer entrepreneurs.

PACE is particularly focused on supporting the tourism sector after the closure of the federal Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, with many businesses still reeling from the closure of the Canada-U.S. border. It’s not uncommon for lodges in the region to have clientele that’s 95 per cent American, Goulding noted.


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