Community and Commerce Ontario

TORONTO, May 23, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) today released an extensive and comprehensive report conducted on Aboriginal Economic Development Corporations (EDCs) in Ontario.

"EDCs are seen as invaluable conduits between government, industry and Aboriginal communities, providing a business base from which to build long-term sustainable relationships.  Driving revenue from community businesses for community benefits is seen as a necessity for community growth.  This report is testament to the expanding success of Aboriginal business, where best practices are intersecting with innovation and business experience." stated JP Gladu, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

The research provides the first authoritative picture of these First Nation community-owned corporations, which operate throughout Ontario and drive business growth on and off First Nations. EDCs are as diverse as the communities they represent, operating in mining, forestry and energy as well as owning airlines, industrial parks, and providing high-speed Internet. Some of these firms have been operating since the 1970s, contributing to Aboriginal business growth as well as the Canadian economy as a whole. However, little is known about what they are, what they do, or what drives their success. This report provides in-depth, quantifiable answers to those questions, based on interviews conducted throughout the winter of 2012 in communities across Ontario.

While these community-owned corporations often need support at start up, a majority used First Nation or government funding during incubation. Once operating, recurring revenue replaces these funding sources and drives business growth. In fact, the more mature, successful EDCs note that they return more to the government in taxes than their communities receive in all funding and programs combined. The early support of government programs that engage business people and help set the stage for growth can pay dividends that last for years.

"This survey demonstrates that Ontario is continuing to move in the right direction," said David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. "Ontario is proud of its diverse programs, including the New Relationship Fund, which builds consultation and project capacity for Aboriginal communities and organizations. Innovation, drive, vision and determination have been vital ingredients in the success of Aboriginal EDCs, and we'll continue working together to support the dynamic and innovative Aboriginal entrepreneurs who contribute so much to their communities and to Ontario's future prosperity."

EDCs are driving partnerships between First Nations, Inuit and Métis, people and private business, showing real results through job creation, infrastructure development and training programs.

The goal of these firms is self-sufficiency for their communities, which they are achieving through economic development. While job creation was once seen as an end in itself, the trend today is clearly towards building profitable, professional modern companies. Capacity building is seen as key to this, as well as complying with strict corporate standards. To this end, EDCs are increasingly getting ISO certification, focusing on corporate and boardroom training, and building business skills in their home communities.

Over 130 communities were contacted and 62 EDCs were identified. Of those, 27 were reached for interview, half of which were conducted in person. CCAB conducted this research in partnership with Environics, a leading national research and consulting firm.

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) was founded in 1984 by a small group of visionary business and community leaders committed to the full participation of Aboriginal people in Canada's economy. A national non-profit organization, CCAB offers knowledge, resources, and programs to both mainstream and Aboriginal owned member companies that foster economic opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses across Canada.

SOURCE: The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

For further information:

JP Gladu
President and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
1 (416) 961-8663

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