by EVAN MATTHEWS
The Robson Valley, and Valemount in particular, will benefit from an added $300,000 via the B.C. Rural Dividend.
Three projects in the Robson Valley will see the added funding come from the second intake of Rural Dividend applications.
The Village of Valemount will receive $100,000 to develop a modern and comprehensive technology tool intended to help the Valemount Community Forest to access up-to-date information on their wood supply and to assess the manufacturing capacity and vegetation resource inventory.
When asked how it would develop the tool or how the tool would work exactly, the Village did not respond by presstime.
The Valemount Learning Society — out of the Valemount Learning Centre (VLC) — will receive $100,000 to expand the services of the society by creating the not-for-profit Valemount College.
VLC Manager Riette Kenkel told The Goat its recently completed business plan includes four areas of study leading to certificates: Rural Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, Mountain Outdoor Recreation Tourism, First Nations Cultural Tourism, and Tourism Administration.
The Learning Centre hopes to receive an additional $46,000 via the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives Program to help cover the start-up costs, according to Kenkel.
In Oct. 2016, Kenkel told The Goat the Learning Society had $257,000 in the bank to go towards start-up costs, and VLC’s hope was to secure funds for launching the school through CBT and the Rural Dividend.
The last of the three Robson Valley projects is The Community Futures Development Corporation of Fraser Fort George, which will receive $100,000 to help deliver a training and support program to help farmers access tools and resources offered through Small Business B.C.’s Export Navigator.
Community Futures is the only organization throughout rural BC with a mandate for small business and community economic development, according to its website, offering assistance through 34 offices in rural communities.
The website states the organization offers a variety of services and tools to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals, including business support services, business planning advice, loans and self-employment assistance.
The B.C. Rural Dividend — the source of the added funding — is designed to help eligible rural communities diversify and strengthen their local economies and contribute to their overall wellness and sustainability, according to the Province.
“I recognize the importance of rural communities and the challenges they face growing and diversifying their economy,” says MLA for Prince George-Valemount, Shirley Bond.
The dividend is also a key commitment from the 2015 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention, according to the Province.
Under the guidelines of the BC Rural Dividend, single applicants can apply for up to $100,000 for community-driven projects and must contribute at least 20 per cent of the total project cost, according to the government, while applicants representing partnerships can apply for up to $500,000 and must contribute 40 per cent of the total project cost.
The $25-million-per-year BC Rural Dividend Fund was extended for a fourth year in 2017, according to the Province, saying funding is available in four categories including community capacity building, workforce development, community and economic development, and business-sector development.
The BC Rural Dividend is one of the ways the B.C. government is taking action to strengthen rural communities, according to the Province. In order to support the needs of rural communities and grow local economies, the Province says it will be releasing a rural economic development strategy in the near future.
The third application intake will run from Apr. 3 through to May. 31.