The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario) (Science and Technology)
October 2, 2009
Check against delivery
Thank you MP Holder.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, friends and honoured guests.
It is wonderful to be here at the London Small Business Centre. I'm sure some of you know that yesterday marked the first day of Small Business Month in Ontario. Our small businesses and entrepreneurs are extremely important to our economy, and we are working hard to provide the support and resources they need.
As one of Canada's most vibrant and livable cities, London has a long history of prosperity, innovative industry and academic excellence.
However, London, like most communities in Southern Ontario, has also been affected by the recent economic downturn.
I know that Canadians' number one priority and our government' number one priority right now is our economy.
That is why our government is working hard, in partnership with businesses and communities in Southern Ontario to strengthen it.
Our government has reduced taxes, paid down debt and invested in roads, bridges, waterways, community centres and other important projects. Our Economic Action Plan builds on Canada's strengths and sets the path for our future economic success.
There is already some evidence that all these measures our government has taken are having an impact, and that our economy is starting to turn the corner.
I was heartened to see that in August there were 12,000 new jobs created in Ontario, according to Statistics Canada.
We also learned that manufacturing was up by almost 12 per cent in July in this province. The price of new homes has also started to climb for the first time in a year.
I was thrilled when Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked me to take on the job as Minister of State responsible for the new Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, or FedDev Ontario as we like to call it.
Announced in Canada's Economic Action Plan, FedDev Ontario was created to deliver economic development programs that would build on the strengths of our communities and create an environment where our people and businesses can thrive.
Our government is committed to making sure that our economy, and your communities, are more competitive and diversified.
This is exactly what I've been doing over the last few weeks.
For example, last month, I was in Kitchener to announce 90 new projects worth $102 million under the Community Adjustment Fund to help communities all over Southern Ontario develop and diversify their local economies.
I was also in Essex to announce our government's $30 million investment in 37 Community Futures Development Corporations so that they can provide rural small business with greater access to services and financing.
I was here in London to announce $50 million for venture capital through the Business Development Bank of Canada.
I also travelled to Hamilton recently to announce $45 million for the National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small- and medium-sized businesses in Southern Ontario innovate and create the jobs of the future.
We want businesses to succeed and grow not simply because success will mean more – and better jobs – for workers today, but because it will set the stage for the prosperity of our country tomorrow.
That is why, today I am pleased to announce that Canada's government is launching the new Southern Ontario Development Program and will invest $100 million this year to fund projects that will benefit people, communities and businesses in southern Ontario. We are launching our first call for proposals today, which will be worth $40 million. Other aspects of the program will be announced shortly.
Eligible small-and medium-sized businesses, business associations, municipalities, not-for-profits, Aboriginal organizations, colleges and universities located in Southern Ontario are all invited to apply for SODP funding.
Applications will be assessed based on merit and the degree to which they meet FedDev Ontario priorities — including economic development, innovation and diversification.
Our government is delivering on our commitment to create jobs and strengthen the economy.
We will continue to support people, communities and businesses in Southern Ontario and pave the way for our long-term growth.
Thank you. Merci.