THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Jason Thompson of Superior Strategies is talking Indigenous Business with James Murray of NetNewsLedger.com.
Thompson says that Northwestern Ontario is on the cusp of a fundamental change that will make a huge difference in how our economic future unfolds. One of the fundamental changes happening right now is that business partnerships are taking over the direction. Thompson says that First Nations want “skin in the game,” and an ownership position in business ventures.
At the Regional Energy Conference in June in Thunder Bay, First Nations leaders, Economic Development Officers, Business owners and leaders came together to discuss the opportunities arising in the energy sector. There was a marked change in many of the discussions as business leaders were looking toward how to do partnerships and joint ventures.
Indigenous business is changing with efforts underway to change the mindset toward increased entrepreneurship and more partnership agreements. Perhaps one of the most powerful examples is Watay Power. This business consortium has brought First Nations business leadership to the helm of a $2 billion dollar business project.
The changes toward entrepreneurship are also evident. Brian Davey from the Nishnawbe-Aski Development Fund says that over $4 million in loans has been reached over the past year, a new high mark for NADF.
There are billions of dollars worth of projects ongoing in Northwestern Ontario, including a major expansion of the energy grid which will see communities across the North joining the power grid. This move will once complete, result in reducing the carbon footprint for northern communities as they will no longer be reliant on diesel-powered generators. It will also reduce costs for consumers.
Tied in together with the moves to bring the fiber-optic Internet into many communities, these efforts represent the potential for a major paradigm shift for northern communities in health, in business, and in opportunities.
There are for Indigenous people across the region, huge opportunities for skills training. Supercomm is providing the opportunity for Indigenous students to learn the trades. With the massive shortage of skilled tradespersons, in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, as just a few examples, the potential to train and gain a well-paid career is massive.
NetNewsLedger will be featuring this growing paradigm shift in Indigenous business over the coming weeks, months and years.