Grow­ing your own op­por­tu­ni­ties

The Victoria Standard - - COMMUNITY CALENDAR - JEN­NIFER RI­P­LEY

Agri­cul­tural en­trepreneur­ship and in­vest­ment pro­grams help­ing to launch Is­land food busi­nesses

While mar­itime jobs are dis­ap­pear­ing and pop­u­la­tion num­bers are de­clin­ing, some Cape Bre­ton­ers are pur­su­ing the en­tre­pre­neur­ial path. Jill Mcpher­son and her busi­ness part­ners Liz Mac­cormick and Kevin Mck­ague are tak­ing ad­van­tage of agri­cul­tural en­trepreneur­ship pro­grams to launch the Cape Bre­ton Cider Com­pany. Their goal is to open the tap room and pro­duc­tion space near the Syd­ney wa­ter front as early as fall of 2017.

Though they are only in the busi­ness plan­ning phase, re­sponse has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. The suc­cess of main­land cideries, Bul­wark and An­napo­lis Cider Com­pany, and craft brew­eries such as Big Spruce Brew­ing and Bre­ton Brew­ing is en­cour­ag­ing. Mcpher­son is quick to point out the sup­port and ad­vice that has been pro­vided from oth­ers in the in­dus­try, some­thing that she and her part­ners are very grate­ful for.

"If we want to take our com­mu­ni­ties to the next level we need to be sup­port­ive of en­trepreneurs and new ideas".

The trio have se­cured some fund­ing and are in the ap­pli­ca­tion process with the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and in­vest­ment pro­grams like Farm­works.

Over twenty peo­ple from Cape Bre­ton and East­ern Main­land at­tended the Fe­bru­ary 19 Farm­works in­for­ma­tion ses­sion hosted by Jeremy White of Big Spruce Brew­ing. They learned about bor­row­ing and in­vest­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in lo­cal agri­cul­tural busi­nesses. A Com­mu­nity Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment In­vest­ment Fund (CEDIF) since 2011, Farm­works has raised over 1.4 mil­lion dol­lars to in­vest into Nova Sco­tia en­trepreneurs. Both White and Farm­works were just start­ing out when they part­nered. Al­though the loan from Farm­works was small, White re­calls it was crit­i­cal to the fu­ture suc­cess of the brew­ery.

Two of the co-founders of Farm­works, Linda Best and Ann An­der­son started the CEDIF be­cause Nova Sco­tia was los­ing farms, lo­cal food, and jobs. “Farm­works grows com­mu­nity and keeps money cir­cu­lat­ing in the prov­ince,” says Best. From her per­spec­tive, in­vest­ment in this CEDIF brings money back to the prov­ince and sup­ports lo­cal economies. Their goal is to sup­port en­trepreneurs of ev­ery scale, from small busi­ness to large scale pro­duc­tions, and cre­ate jobs that will keep peo­ple in Cape Bre­ton.

In­ter­ested en­trepreneurs com­plete and ap­pli­ca­tion form and sub­mit a busi­ness plan com­plete with fi­nan­cials. Af­ter meet­ings be­tween di­rec­tors and the ap­pli­cants, a fi­nal re­view is com­pleted by board mem­bers. From be­gin­ning to end, the process takes an av­er­age of one month. To date, over 60 busi­nesses have re­ceived fund­ing from Farm­works, and Best an­tic­i­pates the num­ber will reach 80 by end of 2017.

The Fed­eral govern­ment is on board as well. Farm Credit Canada says that ac­cess to cap­i­tal will al­low these busi­nesses to take ad­van­tage of new op­por­tu­ni­ties, grow the econ­omy and cre­ate more mid­dle class jobs. The Young En­tre­pre­neur loan of­fers fi­nanc­ing of up to $1 mil­lion per qual­i­fied ap­pli­cant, un­der age 40. The loan can be used for the pur­chase or im­prove­ment of agri­cul­ture-re­lated as­sets. It can also be used for the pur­chase of shares in an agri­cul­ture-re­lated busi­ness, in­clud­ing those in the agri­food sec­tor.

The Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Loans Act (CALA) Pro­gram is an­other loan guar­an­tee pro­gram de­signed to in­crease the avail­abil­ity of loans to farm­ers and agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tives.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Farm­works, visit www. farm­works.ca.

Farm­works co-founders and cur­rent di­rec­tors, Linda Best (at com­puter) and Ann An­der­son walk guests through the fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion process. Farm­works sup­ports small and large scale pro­duc­tions to cre­ate jobs that will keep peo­ple in Cape Bre­ton.

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