GN takes over loan, subsidy programs in Kivalliq

“I hope this will mean that funds will flow faster”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

GREG YOUNGER-LEWIS

Kivalliq hamlets and budding entrepreneurs should expect their search for loans and training programs to be easier now that the government of Nunavut has taken over the administration of subsidy programs in the region.

The GN’s department of economic development and transportation will take back two significant business loan and subsidy programs from the region’s Inuit development group on May 26.

The change came after the government received complaints that one program was being run inconsistently.

Until this month, Kivalliq Partners in Development were handling government funding for the Community Initiatives Program and the Contributions to Business Development Program, worth more than $700,000 and $225,000 respectively.

Those programs give loans to small- and medium-sized businesses or entrepreneurs, such as carvers or seamstresses looking to buy new equipment. They also help hamlets with training and job creation.

Kivalliq Partners, which is the economic development arm of the Kivalliq Inuit Association, had been running the programs for at least five years. In other regions, the programs have always been run by government.

The government reclaimed the programs from Kivalliq Partners after the region’s mayors passed a motion in February in Coral Harbour, complaining that there were too many “inconsistencies” in what projects were being approved.

Rankin Inlet Mayor Lorne Kusugak said projects like the hamlet’s request for new computers were being rejected under Kivalliq Partners’ handling of the community initiatives program.

But Kivalliq Partners approved other projects that Kusugak didn’t consider eligible, like funding for a new cemetery in another community in the region.

Kusugak said there were unnecessary delays with approvals, which could prevent businesses or communities from making timely investments, such as shipping supplies by sealift.

“There just wasn’t consistency,” Kusugak said. “We felt we should get a fair shake.

“I hope this [change in management] will mean that funds will flow faster.”

Robert Connelly, the GN’s Kivalliq manager of community economic development, said funding from the program will likely stretch further under government management.

Connelly said the government took over the programs after reviewing the number and kind of applications being submitted.

He said more groups are turning to government for help developing business projects, such as mining exploration and fisheries, and the GN needs to find more ways to get “a bigger bang for our dollars.”

“We’re in an era where there’s increased pressures on communities to develop,” Connelly said. “We have a lot more economic activity in the communities, and there’s increased pressures on government in terms of funding support.”

Kivalliq Partners CEO Ron Dewar said there were no inconsistencies in how the program was run, as the application board followed the government’s guidelines.

However, Dewar said the change in Kivalliq Partners programming will allow the organization to focus on other initiatives, such as delivering subsidies for training people.

Kivalliq Partners was created 15 years ago to put business subsidy and loan programs under one roof.

“This thing that worked so well in the ’90s,” Dewar said. “It seems that concept has faded away.”

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