Feds pledge $30m for B.C.’s small businesses, tech sector

Photo: Rob Kruyt

What happened: Federal government allocates more than $30 million in relief to small businesses, tech sector

Why it matters: Much of the funding aimed at businesses that otherwise didn’t qualify for other government relief programs in wake of pandemic

Ottawa is signing off on more than $30 million in funding aimed at boosting small businesses in B.C. as well as the province’s tech sector.

Among the initiatives is a slew of projects amounting to more than $27 million in interest-free loans to assist small businesses.

According to Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly, the new economic support is aimed at businesses that otherwise found themselves falling through the cracks as the federal government rolled out COVID-19-related relief programs such as the wage subsidy.

“We needed to develop a new backstop for these measures in order for these businesses to be able to access support and survive,” she said during a Tuesday (July 28) conference call.

The funding comes via the $304 million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for Western Canadian businesses announced in May.

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is administering the delivery of funding to a total of 613 projects in the province.

Most of the projects (599) cover up to $40,000 in costs for businesses, with a total $19,959,551 being earmarked.

A second stream of 14 projects totalling $7,237,997 in funding is geared towards helping businesses retain workers, maintain capital flow, and protect technologies and intellectual property.

The government estimated the measures will protect 692 jobs at 525 firms with four employees or fewer in B.C.

A separate initiative known as the B.C. Technology Sector Resiliency Program, also announced Tuesday, sees $2.95 million directed to the province’s tech sector.

The program, administered by Innovate B.C. and the B.C. Acceleration Network, will be used to expand advisory services to help tech entrepreneurs.

Funding also comes from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

The two above-mentioned organizations also using the funding to expand the Digital Economic Response (DER3) program, which offers technical expertise to businesses looking to improve their digital capacity.