EDGE pro­gram could be knifed in 2019

Gov­ern­ment busi­ness in­cen­tive pro­gram isn’t see­ing much ac­tiv­ity, could be up for re­view next year

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - BY DAVID MA­HER

A busi­ness de­vel­op­ment pro­gram aimed at help­ing medium-sized busi­nesses set up shop in the prov­ince could be on the chop­ping black head­ing into the 2019-20 pro­vin­cial bud­get.

For­tune Bay-Cape La Hune MHA Tracey Perry raised con­cerns over the Eco­nomic Di­ver­sity and Growth En­ter­prises (EDGE) pro­gram in the House of As­sem­bly on Tues­day, stat­ing the pro­gram had not seen any ap­pli­cants in the last year.

Upon re­view of the num­bers, ap­pli­ca­tions to the pro­gram over the last num­ber of years has been want­ing.

Be­tween the 2013-14 and 2017-18 an­nual re­ports, no busi­nesses were rec­om­mended to cab­i­net to take ad­van­tage of the pro­gram.

Tourism, Cul­ture, In­dus­try and In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Chris Mitchel­more didn’t give a ring­ing en­dorse­ment of the pro­gram when pressed by re­porters on Tues­day.

“When you look at the EDGE pro­gram it­self, there are sig­nif­i­cant costs on the trea­sury on the ini­tial stage, but it’s meant to be a long-term in­vest­ment,” he said. “If we can at­tract com­pa­nies to come to New­found­land and Labrador without hav­ing to pro­vide 10 or 15 years where the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is on the hook for pay­ing their pro­vin­cial or fed­eral tax­a­tion ... then that would cer­tainly be my pref­er­ence.”

Mitchel­more pointed to other busi­ness in­cen­tive pro­grams the gov­ern­ment has in place to en­cour­age busi­nesses to set­tle in the prov­ince.

He says he’s will­ing to re­view the pro­gram.

Perry says it’s a good pro­gram and she doesn’t want to see it cut al­to­gether.

“I would have a lot of ques­tions for the min­is­ter about that,” she said. “It was a great in­cen­tive pro­gram for try­ing to at­tract in­vestors to New­found­land and Labrador — par­tic­u­larly ru­ral. There’s not a lot of in­cen­tive pro­grams out there. That one was very ben­e­fi­cial.”

The pro­gram was in­tro­duced in 1994 and has seen dozens of busi­nesses take ad­van­tage of it, but the drop-off is no­tice­able in re­cent years.

Un­der the pro­gram, if a com­pany set­tles in the North­east Avalon, it’s of­fered a 10-year tax break on pro­vin­cial and pay­roll tax. If the com­pany moves off the North­east Avalon, the tax break ex­tends for 15 years. There are ad­di­tional 50 per cent re­bates on fed­eral tax and to­tal re­bates on mu­nic­i­pal tax­a­tion for the 10- or 15year pe­riod.

The pro­gram also of­fers the po­ten­tial to pur­chase Crown land in the prov­ince for $1.

DAVID MA­HER/THE TELE­GRAM

For­tune Bay-Cape La Hune MHA Tracey Perry speaks to re­ports Tues­day out­side the House of As­sem­bly.

DAVID MA­HER/THE TELE­GRAM

Tourism, Cul­ture, In­dus­try and In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Chris Mitchel­more speaks to re­ports Tues­day.

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