News Local

Feds grant funds despite deficit reduction plan

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today


NORTHUMBERLAND - Even as the federal government is working out its Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAC) and how it will impact local programs and institutions, Northumberland County has been the recipient of two major new funding announcements in less than a week.

The most recent occurred at the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation's (CFDC) annual general meeting on Wednesday when local riding MP Rick Norlock announced that the county CFDC had received the first allocation under theFedDev Ontario Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative. The $529,200 is "designed specifically" for undergraduates, graduates and post-graduates in science, engineering or math to start their own business, or work with a non-profit agency to use their specialized knowledge to bring new products to the marketplace, Norlock said.

This can be in the entrepreneurial area of agri-business, clean energy, social media, etc., the MP explained in an interview.

The Northumberland CFDC was one of few who applied through the program about a year ago, he continued, and it was put through a similar program and was the first to be successful in accessing the funding, Norlock said.

The program is being launched in collaboration with the Municipality of Port Hope's business incubator IDEA HUB, said Northumberland CFDC executive director Wendy Curtis, which is contributing another $20,000 along with the assistance of the Northumberland Manufacturer's Association and regional colleges and universities.

Eligible entrepreneurs "will have an undergraduate degree or three-year advanced college diploma in Science, Technology, Engineer or Mathematics, or will be current graduate/doctor students or fellows in these fields who have a market-ready product or process innovation that they wish to commercialize in Northumberland," states a media release from Curtis. There will be up to $20,000 available for successful applicants who will develop a business plan and have the opportunity for mentorship, business incubation opportunities and more, it also states.

The objective is to launch 22 such new firms in the county, states Northumberland CFDC board chair Hugh Parker.

In addition to the more than half million dollar economic development funding announcement made by Norlock Wednesday in Cobourg, he also made a $1.28-billion over ten years announcement in Port Hope last Friday for phase II of the federal/municipal clean-up program of low-level, historic radioactive waste.

Like the Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative, this was brand new money to this riding, over and above the $260-million provided and already spent on the clean-up in Port Hope, Norlock said.

The federal government's Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAC) will not impact the $1.28-billion, he said. Previously, during one of three federal budget information gathering sessions, Norlock said that through the DRAC, the Port Hope clean up, Eastern Ontario Economic Development Fund and the expansion of Trenton Air Force Base could be the subject of up to a 10% reduction in funding.

With the current commitment, the Port Hope cleanup is not being targeted and Wednesday it appeared the $800-million in Trenton Air Force Base commitments would go forward, he said. The $30-million funding over three years for economic development previously announced for Eastern Ontario could still, however, be subject to up to a 10% reduction, the MP said in updating the situation.

The specifics of the federal Deficit Reduction Action Plan will be announced either just before or at the time of the new federal budget anticipated in February, Norlock said.