Program offers rich potential

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It was an alarming loss when announced last March. But in the wake of production changes at the Michelin plant in Pictou County, that will ultimately see 500 positions eliminated, comes an opportunity with potential benefit for northern Nova Scotia.

In an effort to bolster job numbers, Michelin Development, in partnership with business development organization NOBL and Bergengren Credit Union, is launching a program that offers low-interest loans and free business expertise.

The partnership will be inviting applications in July for small businesses starting, or up and running, in Pictou, Colchester, Antigonish and Guysborough counties. They determined that area based on where employees at the tire plant in Granton reside.

But the offer is open to any business with potential, not just ex-employees. With loans of up to $300,000, the hope is to see at least 250 jobs created through the efforts of small business.

A similar undertaking in an area in Ontario that experienced Michelin job losses saw the target of 550 new jobs nearly met.

We often hear about the potential for small business in Nova Scotia to provide substantial employment. That’s an encouraging message that should be repeated often, if only because smaller operations aren’t as visible as the large-scale employers. But there are plenty of success stories, some that start small and grow into sizable players.

We’re also used to anticipating what government plans to do to foster job creation. Government can indeed play a role to improve conditions faced by businesses, but as the recent Ivany Report stressed, far too much expectation is placed on government when the going gets tough. It’s initiatives within the private sector that power the economy.

This program offers a wealth of possibilities to the region’s entrepreneurs. Consider the level of expertise that an international giant like Michelin can provide. For anyone out there with a plan in mind, now’s the time to get at it.

Organizations: NOBL and Bergengren Credit Union

Geographic location: Pictou, Guysborough, Granton Ontario Nova Scotia

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