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Dividends allow rural areas to move forward on their agenda: MLA

The BC Government is re-opening their Rural Dividend funds as part of its Economic Development strategy.

Applications will re-open on April 3rd for a second straight year for the program that helps small areas diversify their economies and build up the community.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond says provincial investments like these are very critical.

“In the budget, we announced it was going to be extended for an additional year, so it’s now a four-year program at $25 million dollars every year; it’s been very well received by rural communities.”

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The funding is available for four specific categories:

– Community capacity building
– Workforce development
– Community and economic development
– Business sector development

The money will distributed for remote areas who apply, which also includes non-profits and First Nations groups.

Bond says the fund is all about providing money where it’s needed most.

“This is one of those funds that allows them to apply; they can receive a significant funding, either to do planning or increase their capacity to move forward on an economic agenda.”

She says single applicants can receive up to $100,000 for their ideas and projects, but they must be able to contribute 20% of the total cost.

Among the projects presented to government include clear phone and internet connection, and Bond believes this is just one piece of the bigger puzzle.

“When it comes to connectivity, obviously we announced in the budget $40 million dollars that would go to assist and make those last-mile connections which are not only very difficult and very expensive, but also critical if you’re going to be successful and compete economically in the world that we live in today.”

The application period closes at the end of May.

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