NORP funding helps local businesses adjust to the impacts of COVID-19
Tim Brody - Editor
Sioux Lookout Floating Lodges and Vegan Delights Inc are two local businesses benefiting from an Ontario government investment of over $1.7 million to help 85 businesses adapt to COVID-19 public health guidelines in the Kiiwetinoong and Mushkegowuk–James Bay regions.
The funding will support building renovations, the installation of safety equipment and the purchase of personal protective equipment and is being delivered through the Northern Ontario Recovery Program (NORP).
“During the ongoing pandemic period, our government is standing shoulder to shoulder with northern business owners, entrepreneurs and workers in the Kiiwetinoong and Mushkegowuk-James Bay regions,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry in a July 22 news release. “COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our day-to-day lives and how we do business. That’s why our government is supporting small and medium-sized businesses as we safely and gradually reopen.”
Sioux Lookout Floating Lodges received $22,400 to build an outdoor deck where customers can practise social distancing while waiting for their houseboats to be cleaned and serviced.
“To say that the past two summers have been devastating would be an understatement. However, from the beginning of this crisis, the Government of Ontario recognized the uniqueness of the resource-based tourism industry in this area. The Northern Ontario Recovery Program funding allowed our business to undertake a project and we have been able to create a safe, appealing and welcoming holding area for our guests to congregate while waiting for their houseboats to be cleaned and serviced. This would not have happened without the NORP funding so we are very grateful,” shared Sioux Lookout Floating Lodges owner Steve Forbes.
Sioux Lookout business Vegan Delights Inc. received $22,637 to restructure its business from a catering-focused business to a manufacturing-focused retailer by retrofitting the kitchen and purchasing kitchen materials, personal protective equipment and cleaning products. The funding will also cover registration costs for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) training.
“The COVID-19 pandemic drastically affected my small business and rapid restructuring was required to remain open. The Northern Ontario Recovery Program funding allowed us to continue serving our community through acquiring certain pieces of equipment, better advertising solutions and a rigorous HACCP certification program. This certification opened the door for five of our unique vegan products to be placed on the retail market and they are currently available in a local grocery store,” Vegan Delights Inc. Owner Lisa-Ann Geddes stated.
NORP was established as a short-term program to help businesses across northern Ontario adjust to the impacts of COVID-19. Applications were accepted until November 20, 2020, and a total of 1,384 businesses have received funding.