Gabriola Island has received an economic development boost from the province.
The provincial government announced last week that the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce would receive $100,000 as part of B.C. Rural Dividend Program.
Following a tour of Nanaimo’s Coastland Wood Industries on March 21, Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, told the News Bulletin that the announcement re-affirms the province’s commitment to helping Gabriola Island and other rural communities.
“I think it is a good indication in our re-investment in our rural areas,” he said.
The funding is part of nearly $8 million in 58 project grants being awarded to eligible local governments, First Nations and not-for-profit organizations through the B.C. Rural Dividend Program. Rural dividend grants help fund projects that will stabilize rural economies. Grants can be up to $100,000 each, or up to $500,000 each for partnership projects.
The chamber of commerce intends to use the grant to help pay for an economic development strategy that includes an office, a comprehensive island asset inventory program, a pilot entrepreneur-in-residence program, and branding and market-readiness workshops.
“While Gabriola Island is one of B.C.’s top destinations to visit and live, its residents and businesses face unique challenges, this B.C. Rural Dividend grant will help the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce in its ongoing work to promote economic development and develop new markets,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, in a press release.
The rural dividend program was created as a way to encourage economic diversification, innovation and sustainability in communities across the province. The program receives $25 million in funding per year.