KENORA – INDIGENOUS – The Ontario government is joining forces with the Ontario First Nations Economic Developers Association (OFNEDA) to create new economic opportunities for individuals and businesses in First Nation communities. To support this initiative, the government is investing $6.8 million in OFNEDA to provide training for Economic Development Officers and funding to First Nation communities.
“Economic Development Officers in First Nation communities provide critical support that helps Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. Working with OFNEDA will help us ensure Economic Development Officers and Indigenous business leaders receive the training and support they need to promote economic growth in their communities,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
The funding is part of the province’s $25 million investment over three years to support Indigenous economic growth. This includes $10 million for Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs to increase access to low-interest loans and grants, $2.5 million to support digitization and e-commerce for Indigenous businesses, $800,000 to better understand issues within Ontario’s First Nation supply chain and grow First Nation businesses, $4 million to support skills training and Indigenous apprentices, and $900,000 to support the work of the First Nations’ Economic Growth and Prosperity Table.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are excited and empowered by the new $6.8 million three-year funding agreement with the Government of Ontario,” said Adam Pawis, Chair of the Ontario First Nations Economic Developers Association. “This much-needed funding will help build capacity within our communities through skills training, community and industry research, procurement readiness, as well as the capacity for proposal-writing and business plan development.”
OFNEDA, which was established in 2009, has already been helping Indigenous communities and businesses with assistance in government procurement, proposal writing, strategic planning and marketing as well as training workshops and conferences to support Indigenous businesses. The association provides opportunities for industry leaders, Indigenous business professionals and government representatives to learn from each other and discuss new business initiatives.
“We would like to thank Minister Rickford and his staff for their efforts and commitment in making this funding agreement happen and look forward to a strong working relationship in the future as we implement these initiatives,” added Pawis.
The investment will help attract strong Economic Development Officer candidates, and give them the necessary tools, training, and support they need to be successful in their roles. The funding will also build capacity within the communities through skills training, community and industry research, procurement readiness, as well as the capacity for proposal-writing and business plan development.
OFNEDA delivers accredited training opportunities to Economic Development Officers and also delivers a number of other professional workshops and conferences to Indigenous business leaders. With 50 members spanning over 40 First Nations communities and 10 corporations, spread over four chapters with broad representation across Ontario, OFNEDA is well-positioned to facilitate economic growth in Indigenous communities.
Ontario’s investment in Indigenous economic growth is a demonstration of their commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous partners and advancing economic prosperity in Indigenous communities.