Ontario Investing in Economic Development Initiatives in First Nations Communities

New partnership providing training and support to promote economic growth

March 29, 2023

Indigenous Affairs

Table of Contents

  1. Content
  2. Quick Facts
  3. Additional Resources
  4. Related Topics

KENORA — The Ontario government is building a strong province by partnering with the Ontario First Nations Economic Developers Association (OFNEDA) to help individuals and businesses in First Nation communities create and expand economic opportunities.

The province is providing $6.8 million to help OFNEDA deliver training for Economic Development Officers and funding to First Nation communities to support the recruitment and retention of qualified individuals.

“Economic Development Officers in First Nation communities provide critical support that helps Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. Working with OFNEDA will help us ensure Economic Development Officers and Indigenous business leaders receive the training and support they need to promote economic growth in their communities,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “This partnership is an example of how we are moving forward on our commitment to prosperity and growth in Indigenous communities.”

The $6.8 million funding is a result of recommendations made by the First Nations’ Economic Growth and Prosperity Table led by the Chiefs of Ontario. The funding is part of the province’s $25 million investment over three years to support Indigenous economic growth which includes:

  • $10 million for Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs to increase access to low-interest loans and grants.
  • $2.5 million to support digitization and e-commerce for Indigenous businesses.
  • $800,000 to better understand issues within Ontario’s First Nation supply chain and grow First Nation businesses.
  • $4 million to support skills training and Indigenous apprentices.
  • $900,000 to support the work of the First Nations’ Economic Growth and Prosperity Table.

Since its establishment in 2009, OFNEDA has provided Indigenous communities and businesses with assistance in government procurement, proposal writing, strategic planning and marketing as well as training workshops and conferences to support Indigenous businesses. The association provides opportunities for industry leaders, Indigenous business professionals and government representatives to learn from each other and discuss new business initiatives.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are excited and empowered by the new $6.8 million three-year funding agreement with the Government of Ontario,” said Adam Pawis, Chair of the Ontario First Nations Economic Developers Association. “This much-needed funding will help build capacity within our communities through skills training, community and industry research, procurement readiness, as well as the capacity for proposal-writing and business plan development. Our communities will be able to not only attract strong Economic Development Officer candidates, but give them the tools, training, and necessary support they need to be successful in their roles. We would like to thank Minister Rickford and his staff for their efforts and commitment in making this funding agreement happen and look forward to a strong working relationship in the future as we implement these initiatives”.

Ontario is strengthening relationships with Indigenous partners and working to advance economic prosperity in Indigenous communities. The government is building Ontario for today and tomorrow by driving economic growth, lowering the cost of doing business, attracting new investments, and getting key infrastructure built faster.

Quick Facts

  • OFNEDA has 50 members spanning over 40 First Nations communities and 10 corporations, spread over four chapters with broad representation across Ontario.
  • OFNEDA delivers accredited training opportunities to Economic Development Officers and also delivers a number of other professional workshops and conferences to Indigenous business leaders.

Additional Resources

Related Topics

Business and Economy

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