By Jenn Watt
Published Oct. 17 2017
Dozens of Haliburton businesses (and hundreds of employees) continue to benefit from the loans and grants provided through Haliburton County Development Corporation members at the annual general meeting heard last week.
Board chairman Andrew Hodgson opened the meeting at Pinestone Resort on Oct. 11 by saying HCDC continued to have the largest investment fund of all Community Futures Development Corporations in Canada.
In the year ending March 31 61 loans went out to businesses worth $3.4 million affecting 161 jobs loans officer Richard Wannan reported during his presentation.
Over HCDC’s 32-year history $76 million in loans was disbursed with an average loan size of just more than $38000. In that time about $2.9 million has been written off or about 3.88 per cent.
Wannan who recently joined the HCDC staff after 12 years in banking noted that loan loss rate was quite low.
“Coming from the financial industry that’s remarkable for a bank let alone HCDC. That’s true testament of what our board of directors our investment committee are doing and the staff have done to actually do prudent lending while trying to build community” he said.
Wannan took time during his presentation to praise the corporation.
“It has a real community focus. To start with we have a board of local individuals whose focus is community and economic sustainability. What a concept. We average 10 to 12 members attending our investment committee meetings where they look at how to help how can we help not just should we do it?”
By far the service sector has been the main recipient of HCDC loans over the years with 39 per cent or more than $29 million going to those businesses. Retail composed 18 per cent of loans followed by construction manufacturing and tourism.
During the director’s report Andy Campbell announced his upcoming retirement at the end of this fiscal year March 2018. Replacing him will be Patti Tallman current assistant director who has been with HCDC for 20 years.
Tallman gave a presentation on the Eastern Ontario Development Program and the Local Initiatives Program both of which are grant programs.
Over the last fiscal year EODP awarded more than $500000 to 22 projects leveraging more than $1 million affecting 74 jobs. Since the program began in 2004 about $6.7 million has been given out with another $11.8 million leveraged.
The Local Initiatives Program available to non-profits disbursed a little more than $31000 in the past fiscal year with another $47000 leveraged over 13 community projects.
In an update on the Haliburton Creative Business Incubator consultant Jim Blake told the audience the program would be rebranded as Haliburton Launch Pad with a new logo. Although the incubator started seven years ago with the mission of helping new businesses get started it now focuses on digital media and has fibre internet on-site. According to his slide graduates of the incubator provide about 20 full-time jobs.
Current businesses in the incubator: Sticks and Stones Productions The Amazing Agency (formerly Digital Reno) SPARC Network and the Arts Council Haliburton Highlands.