ACOA – a bright spot on many Horizons
Since its creation in 1987, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) has had a positive impact on the economic evolution of hundreds of businesses, communities and non-profit entities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
The current status of economic activity and the huge array of new opportunities for Newfoundland and Labrador are captured succinctly in Transcontinental Media’s recent ‘ Horizons’ supplement, which appeared in newspapers throughout the province in March.
This annual business and industrial forecast and review profiled a significant cross-section of the province’s current business, industrial, technology and community-based initiatives.
The extensive Horizons supplement underscored the scope of ACOA’s involvement with and support for business and community development in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, in excess of 80 of the businesses, associations or communities profiled in Horizons through articles or advertisements are either current or past clients of ACOA.
From tourism to innovation, to supply activities for the offshore and marine services sectors, to the aquaculture sector, ACOA programming is contributing to the growth and development of companies in these respective fields and more.
ACOA is proud to have actively helped in the success of these Newfoundland and Labrador companies and communities, while recognizing it is the efforts of each individual business or entity that should really be commended. The agency supports initiative, by working with partners in all levels of government, the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations.
In 2010, the extent of ACOA’s involvement in helping to move Newfoundland and Labrador forward is reflected in the over 900 current ACOA clients in the province receiving the benefit of targeted, focused business loans, research funding or community contributions.
From its Business Development Program (BDP) to the Innovative Communities Fund (ICF) to the Atlantic Innovation Fund, (AIF) – ACOA plays a part in virtually every facet of the provincial economy.
On the business front through BDP, ACOA today has over 450 commercial clients involved with over 600 projects throughout the province, with a total loan portfolio of $81 million.
In the Agency’s work to help build community capacity, 159 municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador have received funding for infrastructure and civic enhancements, including 59 communities that received almost $35 million in stimulus funding under Canada’s Economic Action Plan, which was managed and delivered in Atlantic Canada by ACOA.
And in research and innovation, as noted in the Horizons feature, just this January our government announced $13.8 million in funding for seven Newfoundland and Labrador research projects through AIF, building on the almost $70 million ACOA has invested in 27 Newfoundland and Labrador projects under AIF since our government took office in January of 2006.
The Government of Canada fully appreciates and supports the outstanding work being done by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, particularly in the field of innovation, which was a focal point of our Jobs and Growth Budget tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Mar. 4.
ACOA’s strong and historic commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada as a whole was recently reaffirmed by the measures announced in Budget 2010. Our government is providing permanent, continuous and sustainable funding for ACOA to maintain its current level of programming for the successful Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) and Innovative Communities Fund (ICF), which were originally designed to have five-year life spans.
This means ACOA has $60 million annually, consistent with historic funding levels, but now made permanent and ongoing through Budget 2010, to continue with these two strategic initiatives, particularly the transformative innovative research supported under the Atlantic Innovation Fund.
AIF is just one of the vehicles through which ACOA delivers its mandate to help the region make the transition to a more innovative, productive and competitive economy.
When reading the Horizons supplement through an ACOA lens, the agency can take great pride in the breadth and scope of its role in Newfoundland and Labrador’s growth and development, as reflected by the number of companies, communities and associations with ACOA ties.
With the positive news for ACOA, through out government’s Jobs and Growth Budget, it’s a role the agency looks forward to continuing for may years to come.