News release

Business Loan Program for Immigrants Open for Applications

NOTE: A list of dates and locations for information sessions about the loan program follows the release.

Nova Scotia credit unions are now accepting applications for the new Immigrant Small Business Financing Program.

The program was announced in December and is open to immigrants who have recently moved to Nova Scotia and are interested in starting, expanding or buying a small business. Up to $150,000 is available to successful applicants.

"Small businesses are the foundation of the Nova Scotia economy," said Murray Scott, Minister of Economic and Rural Development. "We want to ensure new immigrants have the opportunity to become small business owners, put down roots in their communities, and contribute to a prosperous future for all Nova Scotians."

Information sessions for people interested in applying will be held at credit unions across the province beginning this week.

"Immigrants who are able to establish businesses here are more likely to stay in Nova Scotia, thereby contributing to Nova Scotia's economic, social and cultural growth," said Immigration Minister Len Goucher.

Details on the sessions and locations are available on the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council website at www.nsco-opcouncil.ca .

"Since the program was announced, we have had calls from across the province from people interested in applying," said Dianne Kelderman, CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council. "This tells us the need is there and we want to give them the support they need to get up and running."

In Nova Scotia, there are more than 30,000 small businesses, representing 92 per cent of all businesses in the province.

Many immigrants find it difficult to get business funding as lending institutions in Canada generally do not recognize international credit history.

The two-year pilot program is available solely through credit unions across Nova Scotia and is administered by the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council. It is a joint initiative of the co-operative council, the Credit Union Council of Nova Scotia, local credit unions and the provincial government.

The Department of Economic and Rural Development is providing $2 million in a loan guarantee to the program, which will be reviewed annually. The Office of Immigration will provide $100,000 a year for operating and other costs of the program, such as business counselling, administration, technical services and legal costs.

More information on the program is also available on the Economic and Rural Development website at www.gov.ns.ca/econ .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotia credit unions are now accepting applications for the new Immigrant Small Business Financing Program.

The program is open to immigrants who have recently moved to Nova Scotia and are interested in starting, expanding or buying a small business.

Up to 150-thousand dollars is available to successful applicants.

Minister of Economic and Rural Development Murray Scott says the program gives immigrants an opportunity to become small business owners, put down roots, and contribute to a prosperous economy for all Nova Scotians.

Credit unions across the province are running the program and will hold information sessions for people interested in applying.

More information is available on the Nova Scotia Co- operative Council website.

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Media Contacts:

Donna Hooper
Economic Development 902-424-1728 E-mail:
Dianne Kelderman
Nova Scotia Co-operative Council 902-893-8966 E-mail:

The following is a list of dates and locations for information sessions about the loan program:

Halifax -- Jan. 28, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., 2nd floor boardroom, Credit Union Central of Nova Scotia, 6074 Lady Hammond Rd.

Sydney -- Feb. 5, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., location to be determined, details will be posted at www.nsco-opcouncil.ca

Port Hawksbury -- Feb. 6, 10 a.m. to noon, boardroom, East Coast Credit Union, 299 Reeves St.

Truro -- Feb. 13, 10 a.m. to noon, 2nd floor Colchester Co-op Boardroom, 339 Willow St.

Coldbrook -- Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to noon, location to be determined, details will be posted at www.nsco-opcouncil.ca .