The Northern Development Initiative Trust is rolling out a new fund to help small forestry related businesses research and develop new technologies and techniques.
The fund will provide up to $1 million dollars in grants over a two year period for small and medium sized companies and community forests involved in logging, processing and transporting products related to the forest sector.
The ‘Forest Innovation Fund’ is under the NDIT’s Pine Beetle Recovery Account.
Although the beetles have long gone and many pine beetle stands already harvested, there are challenging days ahead as the forest industry deals with a reduced mid-term timber supply. Lo-Bar Transport Company President Greg Jacob, says this fund will allow companies like his own, to come up with new, cost effective and efficient ways to harvest , process and deliver the goods. He says the grants “provide a new source of capital that companies like ours can use to stay competitive.”
“The Mountain Pine Beetle continues to have an impact on our communities” says Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount . “Providing support through this fund will encourage innovation and research with the goal of minimizing impacts and maximizing business opportunities now and into the future.”
In order to qualify for a grant a company must be privately owned, have fewer than 500 employees, have revenue less than $100 million dollars and be based within the area served by NDIT.
But as the Softwood Lumber Agreement has yet to be renegotiated, will the USA view this funding as an unfair subsidy? “We certainly don’t think there will be an impact in terms of softwood lumber discussions” says MLA Shirley Bond. “This funding is focused on communities, it doesn’t impact the majors ( forest companies) and in talking to the people leading the file on Softwood there doesn’t appear to be a major impact there.”
The new fund will provide up to 50% of the cost of a project, to a maximum of $50 thousand dollars per project. Eligible project examples include, innovation in biomass and harvesting and gathering techniques, site remediation advancements, seedling survival enhancement, value-added forest products and new technology.