Innovation, Business and Rural Development Minister Keith Hutchings speaks of two mega-funds, for businesses and community groups, in Petty Harbour Thursday afternoon. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Innovation, Business and Rural Development Minister Keith Hutchings was in Petty Harbour Thursday afternoon, talking up changes he’s made to fold economic development money from 20 different programs into two mega-funds.
The media event was essentially to highlight a move that was first announced more than two weeks ago when the government rolled out its 2013 budget.
In fact, sentences from Thursday’s news release were almost word-for-word to what the government said in a news release on budget day.
Hutchings didn’t really provide any new detail, or announce any specific funding. He only said that in total there will be $47 million in two funds — $36 million for businesses and $11 million for community groups.
By just having two broad funds to draw from, instead of smaller targeted programs, Hutchings said, the department can keep things simple.
“It’s about more flexibility and being more effective in terms of serving our stakeholders,” he said.
Liberal MHA Jim Bennett was in Petty Harbour for the event and wasn’t impressed.
“There’s no detail, no amounts, no timelines,” Bennett said. “Today’s exercise seems to be a nice get-out-of-town photo op for the minister.”
But business advocate Richard Alexander said companies in the province need help from government, and by putting it all into two basic funds, it makes it easier to get.
“We’ve heard stories about businesses trying to go into the department and look for some capital to invest in communities, and you know, people spending a lot of time trying to figure out which program is best suited for them,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we’re just trying to get people the capital they need to start businesses and things like that.”