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Let’s Talk About Indigenous Economic Development

We want to see our local economy grow in the right way. Here we explain the basics about Indigenous economic development corporations and the opportunities they give us.

What is Indigenous economic development?

Economic development is pretty much business development. The purpose of Indigenous economic development is to grow our community-owned businesses.

To successfully grow our businesses, creativity and working together are the keys to success. About 60 percent of Indigenous folks in Canada live in rural areas, which comes with some business barriers. Being farther away means reaching markets outside the community is a greater distance. There is also a higher cost of goods and services.

It’s important to focus on Indigenous economic development because it provides a way to build wealth and meet the needs of our members – even when there are barriers to doing business.

What does an Indigenous economic development corporation do?

In a previous post, we explained joint ventures. An Indigenous economic development corporation is similar. It’s a corporation, or group of corporations, that join forces to grow and support a community’s economy.

An Indigenous economic development corporation is a financial and legal partnership. They further the interests of a community. These businesses invest in, own, or manage smaller Indigenous businesses.

Such organizations provide unique ways to bring more money into the community and perk up the local and regional economy. Their purpose is to provide financial support that helps the community. Profits from these corporations help push forward community-based projects that benefit our members as a group.

Often, Indigenous economic development corporations partner with non-Indigenous corporations. This helps them make more money, access more resources, land larger projects, and increase community members' employment opportunities.

Who makes all the decisions about business development?

The community's best interests and growing the economy in line with their values guide business decisions. Almost all Indigenous Economic Development corporations have a Board of Directors to give knowledge, experience, and guidance.

A leader steps up, or is nominated. This leader may or may not be from the community. They create a vision that joins community and business goals. Close consultation with community members ensures the community’s interests are reflected in the business plan.

Why does Canada need Indigenous economic reconciliation?

Economic reconciliation is another way of saying that we all need to work at creating opportunities for everyone to reach their full potential and make money. Indigenous economic reconciliation applies this idea specifically to members of the community.

Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities need this reconciliation in place. It would allow members to participate in and benefit from business opportunities in our territory. Without it, non-Indigenous businesses wouldn’t know whether developmental projects can go forward in our community and territory. We all need to work together to achieve our goals.

Finally, having an Indigenous economic reconciliation in place creates pride in our community and our businesses. It shows non-Indigenous communities that we’re a valuable part of the broader business landscape.

How do business opportunities come into the community?

Usually, business opportunities come up because of the assets we already have. This could be land, water, lumber, specific manufacturing facilities, and more. Building on existing assets first gives other corporations a strong reason to invest in business opportunities in our territory.


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