BDC marks 65 years of support to Canada's small and medium-sized businesses

MONTREAL, Sept. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - On the occasion of its 65th anniversary, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) proudly celebrates six and a half decades of helping Canadian entrepreneurs create and grow businesses, hire workers and harness innovation.

"Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy. For the past 65 years, BDC has helped thousands of them through good times as well as when the going has been rough. With so much success and experience to build on, retirement isn't in our game plan", said BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde. "BDC has evolved with the times, but has remained true to its fundamental purpose of supporting entrepreneurship in Canada. If anything, the last year has confirmed how essential BDC is. The support we provide is all the more important when credit is scarce and we are working very hard to assist entrepreneurs through the recent credit crunch with measures to help them overcome temporary liquidity problems."

A profitable Crown Corporation that pays dividends to the federal government, BDC today numbers 1,800 employees serving clients from more than 100 offices right across Canada. Its total portfolio stands at $11.7 billion. It offers services in four distinct business lines: financing, subordinate financing, venture capital and consulting. It provides financing under terms and conditions that complement those of private sector financial institutions and supports projects that are, in general, higher risk. BDC provides extra support to entrepreneurs with services that respond to companies' evolving management consulting needs and is instrumental in helping commercialize R&D. Since inception, its Venture Capital division has invested in more than 400 companies with investments totalling over $1.16 billion in the life sciences, telecommunications, information and advanced technology sectors, as well as commitments of $253 million in 19 funds.

Highlights of BDC history

On September 30, 1944, BDC was inaugurated as the Industrial Development Bank (IDB) and as an arm of the Bank of Canada to help small manufacturers that had contributed to the Second World War effort by producing military equipment convert their facilities to peace-time operations. Over time, it expanded to support commercial air business and by the mid-1950's was financing one in 10 planes in Canada. The 1960's saw further expansion into support for almost all types of businesses and the opening of branches right across the country. At that time, IDB was the largest source of financing for the tourism industry in many parts of the country. In 1971, it became the first national organization to provide small business owners with management consulting, training and planning services.

On October 2, 1975, the Bank became a Crown Corporation called the Federal Business Development Bank. This expanded its mandate to make it a one-stop shop for small and medium-sized businesses and saw it take on the additional challenge of providing entrepreneurs with venture capital. Throughout the 80's and into the 90's, the organization continued to respond to the changing needs of entrepreneurs, introducing a wide range of services, programs and funds to address issues such as globalization, computerization, innovation and productivity.

Parliament of Canada passed the Business Development Bank of Canada Act on July 13, 1995, which redefined the Bank's name, mandate and role. BDC ceased to be a "lender of last resort" and began offering services that were complementary to those available at other financial institutions. BDC launched new services to help entrepreneurs take advantage of e-commerce opportunities and opened a series of new specialized entrepreneurship centres. This allowed the Bank to further expand its support to entrepreneurs in sectors such as manufacturing, tourism and high technology businesses, and to grow its customer base to 28,000 clients to date.

After the events of September 11, 2001 and again in 2003 when entrepreneurs faced multiple challenges - SARS, mad cow disease, forest fires in the West, hurricane Juan, a slow-down in the U.S. economy and the rising Canadian dollar - BDC was there for them, by postponing principal payments for its clients. Once again, in 2008-2009, BDC rose to the challenge of helping entrepreneurs in rough times by introducing measures to help them overcome temporary liquidity problems brought on by the credit crunch. BDC is a key participant in the federal government's Business Credit Availability Program. Working in partnership with other financial institutions under this program, BDC generated a record increase in loans to businesses across Canada. For the first quarter ended in June 2009, the total dollar value of loans accepted by BDC clients was just over $1 billion, which is 37% higher than the figure for the same period last year.

"The BDC team takes great pride in what we do," says Jean-René Halde. "It is thanks to the ongoing commitment of everyone who has been associated with the Bank and who works here now that we can celebrate our success and look forward to many more years of playing a vital role in Canadian entrepreneurship. Our motto, Entrepreneurs First, has never been more relevant."

SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada

For further information: For further information: Johanne Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, BDC, (514) 283-7929


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