One of the major highlights of the Business Recovery Program, the name being given to the second round of small business support provided by the government through the Small Business Development Centre, is a focus on key areas of economic development, namely technology-based business, alternative energy based businesses, manufacturing and fishing, farming, processing and value-added products.
SBDC Executive Director Davinia Grant said these industries are important because they speak to efficiency and productivity.
“So in an environment where financial resources are scarce, you need to do more with the little that you have. That’s what technology allows you to do. So, by inspiring or incentivizing small businesses to focus more on the technology behind their businesses, we’re ensuring the probability of them being more sustainable than they were before this crisis and definitely more sustainable during this crises. Especially with the health concerns about face-to-face contact, you can use technology to solve some of those problems. So we don’t want small businesses getting cut out because they don’t have the capital to upgrade their use of technology in their businesses. So that’s why that’s a focus,” she said.
“When you look at energy, it is always a focus, because one dollar needs to be able to achieve more outcome or more productivity than it did before. Having clients begin to focus on their energy usage and doing it in a smarter way creates more sustainable businesses.”
Grant clarified, however, that this focus will not be just on those businesses that can clearly be delineated as technology based or energy based.
“It’s for any business that’s looking to improve the use of technology as a part of economic recovery, that’s if they want to now get involved in e-commerce and need assistance, if they need to migrate to the cloud so they can be more efficient, if they need to improve their customer service management tools or inventory tools by using technology, so the funding will go to assist the upgrading of technology for businesses so that one dollar can go much further in this environment,” she said.
“It will also help companies that are specifically designed to help other companies with their technological solutions, so they can benefit. The same thing with energy, it will help mainstream alternative energy companies, whether that’s solar, wind or other energy solutions.”
The third area the SBDC is seeking to funnel financing toward is manufacturing.
“As we encourage more clients to focus on manufacturing, manufacturing is an energy intensive business. So we have to focus on the energy input if they’re going to focus more on manufacturing,” Grant said.
“When I spoke about fishing and farming, when it comes to the processing, value-added processes, again it requires a lot of energy. So for these things to work together we have to think about all of the tools in the overall picture.”
The government allocated $55 million this fiscal year for support of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). This after disbursing nearly $40 million last fiscal year to support small businesses as a part of its Business Continuity Program for companies adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.