HALIFAX – Community-based businesses are creating jobs and helping strengthen local economies in the province, with help from a Nova Scotia program that is getting international attention.
The World Economic Forum recognized Nova Scotia's Community Economic Development Investment Funds program as a successful example of fostering social innovation and entrepreneurship, and local economic development. The program was acknowledged during the forum's Social Innovation Summit in Peru recently.
"This is an enormous honour for Nova Scotia to have our homegrown CEDIF program recognized by one of the world's top authorities on economics," said Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. "Many small businesses in every region of the province are supporting families and having great success with the help of the CEDIF program. We're very proud of what they have achieved."
Wind fields, farmers' markets, co-ops, coffee roasters and environmental enterprises are a few examples of CEDIF businesses that Nova Scotians have chosen to invest in. The program creates a pool of investment capital for small local businesses, and encourages new and innovative ways of growing the economy. Businesses are run by community members, and owned by the Nova Scotians who invest in them.
CEDIFs raised a record $9.4 million last year, up from $7.5 million the previous year. Wind4All achieved the highest amount raised in one year in the program's history with $5.5 million. The wind-energy company has more than 400 investors for two projects: the Gaetz Brook Community Wind Farm in Halifax Regional Municipality and the Hillside Boularderie Community Wind Farm in Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Since joining the CEDIF program nine years ago, New Dawn has raised more than $8 million, and paid about $655,000 in dividends to investors. The community-based organization re-invests the money in local businesses and social enterprises, employing 175 Cape Bretoners, and creating an estimated economic impact of $150 million.
"The support we've received from Cape Bretoners through our CEDIF offerings has been incredibly inspiring," says Rankin MacSween, corporate secretary of New Dawn Innovation Fund. "The investment capital we've raised is contributing to the community through the generation of new jobs and injecting wealth into the local economy; that's something to celebrate."
During the past 13 years, the program has grown to support more than 60 projects. Almost 7,500 Nova Scotians have invested more than $55 million in small- to medium-sized local companies, fuelling economic growth throughout the province.
The majority of CEDIF investments are made between January and April because they count as RRSP investments. In 2010, the province raised the program's equity tax credit from 30 to 35 per cent to further encourage investments.