Aboriginal Business Centre gets funding boost

An injection of cash has staved off the closure of the Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre — for now.

Both the centre and the provincial Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation confirmed the centre will receive a $45,000 advance to help keep the doors open a few months longer.

“It’s good news,” said Paulette Flamond, the centre’s executive director.

Flamond sent out a siren call last week, saying the centre would be forced to shut down June 25 unless funding was found.

Flamond said the centre will remain closed for July as the current staff of three people have planned holidays for the month in preparation of the closure.

The centre will reopen full-time August 1, said Flamond, who expects the funding will keep the centre operating through until the end of September.

“It will keep us open for another few months while other sources of funding continued to be secured,” she said.

“We could be in the same position until the end of September.”

A ministry spokesman said the $45,000 is an advance from the $100,000 pot of annual funding the province provides that was due to be paid out later this year.

“The Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre is an important part of British Columbia’s suite of business programs for Aboriginal entrepreneurs,” the spokesman said in a statement.

“Aboriginal people have a crucial role in our jobs strategy and are a vital part of B.C.’s economic future.”

Both the centre and ministry say they are looking at securing new funding sources for the centre.

Flamond says she has a $500,000 grant application submitted with the provincial jobs tourism and skills training ministry, and hopes to have an answer on whether her application is approved by the end of July.

Since the centre opened 13 years ago, Flamond said it has helped more than 100 aboriginal entrepreneurs gain a foothold by securing $8 million in start-up funding, and another $1.5 million for training in business, health and wellness programming for businesses.

Flamond says it costs about $20,000 a month to operate the centre, but provincial funding only helps to cover about $8,000 of those costs.