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Local businesses receive $1 million in government funding

Recipients of inagrual Economic Development Funding announced
The North End Gallery, located in Horwood’s Mall, has a large selection of art, sculptures, ceramics and jewellry. It received $41,413 from the Yukon government for digital marketing. (Yukon News file)

In a move to transparency, the Yukon government’s department of economic development announced and identified the recipients of their new Economic Development Fund program.

“I am glad to see the program being used by a variety of local organizations and I hope that this is only the beginning”, said the Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai.

This year, 28 different projects will be provided with more than $1 million, with individual projects being funded within a broad range of value, from $1,500 to $184,000.

New program

Late last year the department merged its previous three programs (Regional Economic Development, Strategic Industries Development and the Enterprise Trade fund) into one new program, and tiered it according to the amount of funding requested, making it much like the CDF (Community Development Fund). This model allows the funders to draw on a wide swathe of eligible projects, then assesses which ones rise to the top to be funded according to criteria and priorities.

The list of eligible entities for this new program is extensive, as is the list of eligible activities. Projects can receive a grant of up to 75 per cent of project costs and up to 50 per cent of capital costs. This is the first time that capital costs have been eligible in Yukon’s economic programs for over two decades.

The news release states that the objective of this funding program is to provide long-term, sustainable economic benefits to Yukoners and Yukon communities. It also says that projects were evaluated with a lens that included an assessment of climate change impacts and alignment with the Clean Future strategy.

Successful recipients

Seventy-seven applications were received since April 1 and about 43 per cent were declined or withdrawn. Some applications are still being assessed.

According to the background information provided by Economic Development, and re-sorted by dollar value by the Yukon News, the following four projects each received over $100,000:

  • ORO Enterprises Ltd. received $184,369 to “secure a Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment (YESA) and required Yukon Water Board licensing authorities. These are required components of the Phase 1 feasibility and regulatory stage of realizing the New Era North Fork Hydro Project Plan.”
  • VanGorda Enterprises Convenience received $103,427 to “upgrade and renovate VanGorda’s building and convenience store. Not only will this project fill a current community need for essential services, but the establishment of this expanded business will also make Faro a more attractive community to future residents and businesses. “
  • Kryotek Arctic Innovation Inc. received $100,000 to “field-test and optimize a software system that senses approaching wildfire. Evidence of this field testing will allow them to move their product to the next stage of development.”
  • Landed Bakehouse received $100,000 to “purchase commercial assets and renovate a leased space to allow for a permitted commercial kitchen to operate at their business and meet current demand. This project will allow Landed Bakehouse to meet an increase in demand and sell to local grocery stores who have agreed to supply their products. Impacts of this project will include long term impact on employment, impact on skills development, improved organizational capacity, sustainable long-term benefits and business expansion.”

The mid-sized recipients were:

  • Apprendo Learning Systems received $75,000 to “rapidly build and deploy technology to enable other software to integrate with Apprendo’s platform through an application programming interface and to immediately monetize this development. The Apprendo platform will have a new technical feature that will increase competitiveness and meet market demand. Additionally, functionality will have the likely impact of increasing Apprendo’s valuation and attractiveness to potential investors. Increased sales would lead to more employment opportunities and growth within the company and increase retention with positive impact on recurring revenue leading to sustainable long-term beneficial outcomes.”
  • Outpost 31 Media received $53,350, with the description reading that “Outpost 31 has developed a training program to bring cutting edge technology in the areas of digital literacy, virtual & augmented reality and animation sector to Yukon. This funding is to pay for wages associated with training four interns on this technology. By teaching the skills required for this technology, interns will acquire the skills required to complete the digital media and animation for this film rather than outsourcing it to digital media experts in the south. The successful interns will also be able to transfer their newly acquired skills to other industries that utilize and harness modern technology, like mining, land resource management and tech start-ups.”
  • Greenwood Engineering Solutions received $45,731 “to develop an in-house service to provide better condition information to owners for sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure throughout the Yukon. This service has historically been contracted to non-local entities or conducted with equipment that no longer meets industry standards. This will increase organizational capacity to provide municipal engineering advisory services to Yukon communities.”
  • North End Gallery received $41,413 to “work with a digital marketing firm to develop and implement a first-year export market strategy. To pivot this business, which in non-COVID-19 times attributes 60 per cent sales to visitors, the gallery is reshaping its business model to export to USA and European markets through online sales in addition to improving operational efficiency and increasing sales of Yukon goods.”

The full list is available online.

The response

Early response has been mixed from the business community. The program is new, and it involves a new way of deciding. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce has requested a conversation with the department to understand the new decision-making process. Denny Kobayashi, the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce indicated that some in their membership are concerned about issues such as competitiveness and market disruption.

When asked about competitive advantage being achieved through government funding, spokesperson Damian Topps responded that “all eligible businesses are welcome to apply and are subject to an eligibility screening and project evaluation process.”

Other businesses are pleased with the transparency of the new Economic Development Fund because now people know where funding is going, and who is getting funded, and for what purpose. This information wasn’t available under the previous three programs.

Contact Lawrie Crawford at