The Northern Development Initiative Trust announced a pair of new grant funds on Tuesday aimed at promoting innovation and economic sustainability.
NDIT CEO Joel Mackay said when the trust was founded in 2005, part of its core funding included an account to support communities impacted by the mountain pine beetle.
"Today I'm proud to announce a new trajectory for that account," MacKay said during an announcement at the #TrueNorth Business Development Forum.
The Northern Industries Innovation Fund will provide up to $750,000 per year in rebates to small and medium businesses investing in innovative technologies. Businesses with less than 500 employees in sectors including mining, energy, agriculture, aquaculture and forestry will be eligible for rebates of up to 50 per cent or $50,000 of the project cost.
The Strategic Initiatives Fund will provide up to $900,000 per year to municipalities and First Nations for major projects aimed at promoting long-term economic diversification and sustainability. Communities and First Nations will be able to apply for up to 80 per cent of the cost of their project.
Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, chair of NDIT's Prince George Regional Advisory Committee, said the new funds will respond to the needs of people across the north.
"These funds will help our First Nations communities, our communities and our businesses to really be vibrant," Thiessen said.
The impetus to change the existing pine beetle programs came following the wildfires in the Cariboo, he said.
After the NDIT board held a meeting in Williams Lake and talked to local people, Thiessen said they were concerned the current programs weren't a good fit to meet the needs of communities hard hit by the disaster.
"If we're going to make a different, now is the time," he said.
More information about the two funds, and NDIT's other programs, can be found online at northerndevelopment.bc.ca.