MONTREAL, Oct. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - The city of Duncan, British Columbia, is putting on a new face, thanks to a $12-million retail project. Spearheading this venture is Property Development Group (PDG), a company that has developed commercial real estate throughout B.C. and has partnered successfully with numerous First Nations bands to create and support businesses on reserve lands.
Financed in part by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the project is located on the lands of the Cowichan Tribes, the single largest First Nation in B.C. with more than 3,800 members. The financing of the new Duncan Village project was made possible under the federal government's Business Credit Availability Program. BDC is partnering with Peace Hills Trust, Canada's first and largest First Nations trust company, to provide financing for the project.
Two years ago PDG acquired the former Village Green Hotel site, a joint venture with the Cowichan Tribes, and made plans to redevelop the property into a 72,000-square-foot outdoor shopping centre. For PDG Executive Vice-President and CFO Jeffrey Rosen, this project is in line with the company's philosophy of making competitively distinct and financially responsible investments: "We have always come in with a very transparent, 'open book' attitude-we look for partnerships," he says. "The Cowichan are always looking to improve the quality of their assets. There was a good fit between our aims and theirs on this project."
For those involved, this project is about more than just opening new stores; it is also about the economic revival of the downtown area. The quality of the financial arrangements for a project of this scale depends on the solidity of the project's partners. For Rosen, BDC's approach was key to the positive outcome. "BDC was referred to us as an institution that would have a very good fit because of the nature of the project. What we really appreciated is the personalized approach. I must say that we have found a very supportive, a very good working relationship all through and we are looking at some additional projects that we can work on together."
The Duncan Village project is the most important corporate financing deal BDC has ever made with a First Nations financial institution. Wilson Neapew, National Director of Aboriginal Banking at BDC, believes the Bank's involvement in this kind of project is just one more way it can contribute to the development and well-being of local economies: "Working with its financial partners, BDC and PDG filled a gap in market access and laid the foundation for an important business opportunity that benefits the Cowichan First Nation", said Neapew. "The Duncan Village venture shows once again that partnership is the key to success and Aboriginal people can successfully work with non-Aboriginal partners. BDC is proud to support a project that instills a sense of confidence and pride among Cowichan Tribes communities."
After the recent opening of the centre's anchor tenant, London Drugs, other stores such as Shoe Warehouse, Fan Fever and Warehouse One have opened up shop. More name-brand stores-such as Play N Trade and Reitman's-are expected to put up their signs soon.
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From more than100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. For more information, visit www.bdc.ca.
SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada
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