PONTIAC April 22, 2020
On April 22, Pontiac MP Will Amos announced that the federal government will be providing $287 million to their counterparts at the Community Futures Development Network (SADCs) to support small, rural businesses across the country. An additional $675 million will be invested in regional development agencies, including the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (DEC), earmarked for businesses that couldn’t access previously announced funding.
Though the details of these new funds are still being hammered out, SADC Pontiac Executive Director Rhonda Perry said that she and her colleagues across the province have been trying to ensure all their clients have access to some kind of relief.
“We’ve had one meeting since, for the province of Quebec and that was yesterday [April 23], for them to try and go over what are our needs right now in rural regions of Quebec, what programs have been announced for small business and then, particularly what businesses are not fitting in, the ones that are falling …. through the cracks to see if the new monies that have been announced could be applied,” she explained. “But what that means in terms of each individual SADC, we’re not sure. We don’t have any envelopes or numbers yet and we don’t know what the program will look like as of today. But we are told within two weeks we should have all the details and the amounts of the envelope.”
Perry said that the money would be used to help entrepreneurs adapt to new ways of marketing and doing business during the pandemic and also to transition their company for when the lockdown lifts.
“The good news is … the monies that we are receiving are going right to the businesses,” she said. “In what form, I can’t say at this point, hopefully it’s a combination of loans and contributions to businesses … but it is to serve the small business community. What we’re looking at for our SADC is for what the businesses will be needing after the pandemic, because we know we won’t be returning to the way we used to do things.”
She said that creating an online store or online payment system could be one way that her clients reorient their businesses. She said that she and her staff are doing their est to sift through the deluge of newly announced government spending and determine how their clients can benefit. The task has been made more difficult due to the rapidity of the announcements and the speed at which they are changing.
“We’re trying to dissect each program and understand what the conditions are and from there, try and fit what is the best program launched for their business, at this time, for their needs,” Perry said.
She added that one of the main concerns that she hears from their clients is that they don’t want to wade into too much additional debt, since many are still paying rent, hydro and other overhead expenses while dealing with reduced cash flow.
“They’re being cautious,” Perry said.
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