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NEWS RELEASE · 16th February 2012
Northern Development Trust
Northern Development Expands Programs and Funding to Support Burns Lake Recovery

The Northern Development Initiative Trust Board has approved several initiatives to ensure that the people and businesses of the Burns Lake area are strongly supported by Northern Development and peer communities across central and northern British Columbia. Northern Development Chair Evan Saugstad confirmed the regional support to Village of Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold, who attended the February 8th, 2012 Northern Development board meeting.



"Our business programs will expand to enable retail and service sector businesses in Burns Lake to receive consulting assistance and loan guarantees during the next three years while industry makes decisions and moves forward to rebuild the job base in Burns Lake," stated Chair Saugstad. "Communities across the region like Tumbler Ridge to Mackenzie, Valemount and Prince Rupert have all dealt with the loss of major employers, but never as unexpectedly and with such devastation and loss of life."



Mayor Strimbold expressed appreciation for the support and the high degree of responsiveness to the needs of the community. "Northern Development has reacted quickly to the needs expressed by the business community in Burns Lake by expanding their business programs to directly support the retail and service sector businesses that are so vital to our community."



Northern Development Chief Executive Officer Janine North along with Village of Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold, Bulkley-Nechako Regional District Chair Bill Miller, Burns Lake Native Development Corporation President Albert Gerow, and Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Briand met with the retail and business community yesterday to provide details about Northern Development funding programs and partnerships with local banks to ensure that the business community was well supported in dealing with the challenges ahead.



Chief Executive Officer Janine North recently met with the management of the Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Lakes District Credit Union and was impressed by how actively they have engaged with their clients in assisting through this period of uncertainty.



Northern Development will also provide funding for additional grant writer positions to assist the Village and the Regional District get completed applications for 'shovel ready' projects into the hands of government and funding organizations. The six local First Nations can also staff grant writer positions through Northern Development's partnership with the New Relationship Trust that will increase their capacity to respond to their community needs. Grant writer training and $75,000 in financial support for hiring grant writers will be available for the Burns Lake area.



Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Chair Bill Miller expressed his appreciation that applications from the Burns Lake area would have expanded access to Northern Development funding through the Pine Beetle Recovery Account. "We know of many projects like upgrades to the Tom Forsythe Memorial Arena and the Curling Rink, new tourism infrastructure projects, and other community needs that will put people to work and utilize the local suppliers in the short term. It's great to have a sustainable Trust like Northern Development there when we need help with immediate support."



Dean McKinley, Northern Development's Regional Director, Economic Development, who grew up in Burns Lake, is working from the Village office to support the recovery efforts and add capacity to the Provincial Recovery team led by Bob Clark and reporting to Minister Pat Bell, Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation.



Chief Albert Gerow, President of the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation said that "We are hopeful that this positive news brings a measure of stability and support to the retail and service sector businesses in our area as we work with our partners in local government and Hampton Forest Products to forge a new path forward together. I am encouraged by the strength of all of us working together at the local level for our people."



"The creation of the Northern Development Initiative Trust in 2004 by the Province of BC enables regional funding decisions in the North....for the North. By providing immediate support in crisis situations like this one in Burns Lake, it shows its strength and flexibility," stated local MLA John Rustad for Nechako Lakes.