May 29, 2009

THOMPSON—The Province of Manitoba is responding to growing business opportunities in the north by supporting a program to support entrepreneurs who harvest and develop non-timber forest products, Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk and Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport Minister Eric Robinson, acting minister of Aboriginal and northern affairs,  announced today.

“The Non-timber Forest Products program is designed to encourage potential, new and existing entrepreneurs and youth to take advantage of opportunities to launch and grow businesses based on harvesting, developing and marketing wild-harvested products available in and around northern communities,” said Wowchuk.  “Many products have been identified and marketed but many more are success stories waiting to be discovered.”

“Employment from non-timber forest products generates business and job-income opportunities for youth, individuals and communities in Manitoba’s northern regions,” said Robinson.  “Developing these locally available products leads to self-employment and diversifies northern economies creating sustainable benefits for all Manitobans through the development and marketing of local resources.”

The program will be cost-shared with matching funds of $100,000 each from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives and Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs.  It will be managed by the Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF).

The focus of the program will be to encourage local residents and communities to identify, launch and expand business opportunities based on locally available non-forest products.  Provincial support will include support for the co-ordinated assembly and marketing of products along with education and training for harvesters in sustainable management and harvesting and in product development and marketing.

“Through our GO Centres, northern residents can access information and assistance from production and business development specialists who can help them create and launch a business plan that will take a product from the forest to local, provincial, national or international consumers,” said Wowchuk.  “Providing appropriate support to northern harvesters opens the door to limitless sustainable opportunities for those willing to venture into the expanding world of entrepreneurship.”
“Local product lines can include foods, natural medicinal products and harvestable items that can be turned into commercial products using traditional methods, modern technical processes or a combination of the two,” said Robinson.  “These marketable products create jobs and have a positive economic impact on the northern communities and the people who live there.”

Program information and applications are available by calling the GO Centre toll-free at 1-866-626-4862 or by contacting CEDF toll-free at 1-800-561-4315.

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