Enticing immigrants with trade skills to settle into the North continues to be viewed as a key solution to helping local employers and industries find people to fill long-standing job vacancies.
Declining population and an increasing shortage of labour in the North has spurred efforts by the Timmins Economic Development Corporation in recent years to attract and retain residents.
Last year, the TEDC researched immigration and outmigration trends in the region and collaborated with “community partners to identify labour shortages and worked closely with the Far North Training Board in developing some labour market forecasts,” Antoine Vezina, director of community economic development, explained during the TEDC’s annual general meeting Friday.
The TEDC is revisiting its Immigration Attraction Project to encourage new Canadians to settle in this area.
“In 2018, and we continued this year as well, to work with the International Student Retention Committee to support international students from the Northern College, Collège Boréal and Université de Hearst,” said Vezina.
“We continue to hold a board position on the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre and we continue to provide governance and support to the Timmins District Multicultural Centre.
“All this ties in very nicely with our labour force development initiatives, working with the employer council, numerous community partners to try to address some of the skill shortages and labour challenges in our community.”
TEDC executive members who spoke at the annual general meeting outlined some of the organization’s objectives and highlighted the performance of various programs in the past year.
The TEDC is not only involved in attracting new labour and industry, but supporting business start-ups as well as expansion opportunities for existing companies in the community. One of the ways it does this is by offering advice and helping to leverage sources of government funding for local entrepreneurs and businesses.
Brenda Camirand, the TEDC’s director of business development and retention, spoke about several of the programs that fall under her supervision including Starter Company Plus. That program is offered to entrepreneurs 18 and over who are interested in receiving training to start, expand or buy a business. Successful applicants are eligible to receive up to $5,000 to support their venture.
In 2018, 17 businesses were started through this program, 13 businesses expanded and 27 jobs were created.
“This program, as it continues to grow year after year,” is becoming increasingly popular to the point where “it is becoming a much more competitive process,” said Camirand. “We’re happy to see the interest is continuing to build moving forward.”
Another TEDC program she talked about was the Summer Company initiative which offers to students ages 15 to 29 training, mentorship and up to $3,000 in funding to start and run a summer business.
The program is designed for students who are returning to school in the fall but want to create and operate their own business during the summer, explained Camirand. Students gain first-hand experience and are encouraged to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career option.
In 2018, Camirand said, there were seven applicants who took advantage of this program, with a total of $21,000 in start-up funding provided.