Ignite Fredericton gets $290,000 boost

January 16, 2015



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Business development group sees budget increased to $515,000 for 2015.

Reported by Stephen Llewellyn, The Daily Gleaner

Fredericton’s economic development arm got a big financial boost in the 2015 budget.

Ignite Fredericton, formerly known as Enterprise Fredericton, had its municipal funding increased by $290,000 to $515,000 when the city budget was approved Tuesday night.

“We want Fredericton to be a prosperous community,” said Coun. Bruce Grandy, chairman of the city’s finance committee, in his budget speech.   “I want to stress the importance of our partnerships. Our achievements in this area are only possible through our strong partnerships with Fredericton’s economic development and business groups.   This includes the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Fredericton Inc., Business Fredericton North, and Ignite Fredericton. “It is through strong collaborative efforts with these key partners that we will achieve true economic vitality.  “In recognition of that, the 2015 budget provides sustainable funding to Ignite Fredericton to support business attraction and retention, and supports Ignite’s immigration support and population growth efforts.”

In November, Ignite Fredericton reported to council that it helped create 72 jobs in the last 12 months. 

Larry Shaw, CEO o f  Ignite Fredericton and the Knowledge Park, said Wednesday the extra funding is going to make a big difference to the organization, including the hiring of extra staff.  “What this increased funding really does is it recognizes the need for an economic development agenda that is consistent with the environment we’re in,” he said. “The city council, through a variety of reviews and discussions and presentations, really got to the point where they understood and supported it.   “We couldn’t be more thrilled. We’re absolutely ecstatic about it.”   He said the funding gives Ignite Fredericton the ability to make foundational investments in the city and the economic development agenda for this region that is badly required.  “ We can expand our business-counselling capabilities,” said Shaw.   “We have to make investments across the full spectrum of entrepreneurs, whether they are starting businesses in retail or whether they’re starting businesses from unique innovations out of universities.”   He said he doesn’t know yet how much additional staff Ignite Fredericton will hire.   “We want to make sure that we align ourselves very much with what is happening at the provincial government level,” said Shaw.  “We known Invest New Brunswick is changing. We want to make sure we’re very much aligned to those activities.  “We certainly will be adding some resources within Ignite Fredericton.”

It’s a big comeback for Ignite Fredericton, which almost disappeared a few years ago when the federal and provincial government’s both pulled funding for its predecessor called Enterprise Fredericton in the fall of 2012. When that happened the municipality initially voted to cut its own funding worth to the economic development organization that was worth $179,000 a year. But a few months later council voted to restore that cash and in return the organization would be revamped and rebranded as Ignite Fredericton.  When it had federal, provincial and municipal funding, Enterprise Fredericton had a staff of 11 full- and part-time employees and an annual budget of nearly $1.3 million.

In the spring of 2014 the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce urged the city to increase funding to Ignite Fredericton. At the time, it pointed out that the city and surrounding communities are funding Ignite Fredericton to the tune of $249,245 a year. By comparison, Enterprise SJ was getting $700,000 a year from Saint John, Rothesay, Quispamsis, Grand Bay-Westfield and St. Martins, while Enterprise Moncton was getting $706,167 a year from Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, said the chamber.

Krista Ross, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday the chamber recently also sent a letter signed by all its board members to council urging more financial support for Ignite Fredericton.  “We were very happy to see they got their request fulfilled,” she said.  “Both we and the municipal government see the value of the return on investment from Ignite so we just felt very strongly that the way to increase the economy in our community is through business growth and business development and that is a lot about what Ignite is doing.”