Let's Talk SEED Policy

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Consultation has concluded

A strong, diversified economy depends on having healthy businesses grow and by promoting and developing NWT business and investment - especially post-COVID. And our focus as a government is to support the men and women who own and run the small and medium-sized businesses that enrich our lives and empower our communities.

To answer concerns raised by NWT residents, we're looking for your input on two components of the SEED Policy:

  • Equity
  • Market Disruption

About SEED

If you're an entrepreneur or business owner or operator in the NWT, the GNWT’s SEED policy can help you start a business and develop skills or business capacity. SEED funding also supports projects and events in communities that help to expand or grow the economy. There are five programs under the SEED Policy

First launched in September 2008, the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Policy is the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment’s (ITI) flagship program, providing more than $17 million in grants and contributions every year across different sectors in the north. In recent years, ITI has increased the amount of funding available to applicants under the SEED policy.

How do I participate?

Online through this engagement platform:

What’s important to us

As much as possible, government investments should benefit NWT businesses and residents.

We're committed to making changes needed to make sure ITI policies and guidelines are giving the support that NWT businesses need to grow in the post-COVID economic recovery while keeping their unique circumstances in mind.

How will my contribution make a difference?

Any thoughts and observations – and especially experiences and ideas – that you can provide to us through this platform will help us make informed decisions.

This is an opportunity for you to join the NWT-wide conversation – we want you to tell us what matters to you.

Where can I find more information?

How we’re reviewing these policies

By hearing your feedback through ITI's online survey and discussion forum.

We want to highlight that this is a conversation – we want you to tell us what matters to you.

To take a look at the SEED Policy click here.

To take a look at the SEED Policy Guidelines click here.

A strong, diversified economy depends on having healthy businesses grow and by promoting and developing NWT business and investment - especially post-COVID. And our focus as a government is to support the men and women who own and run the small and medium-sized businesses that enrich our lives and empower our communities.

To answer concerns raised by NWT residents, we're looking for your input on two components of the SEED Policy:

  • Equity
  • Market Disruption

About SEED

If you're an entrepreneur or business owner or operator in the NWT, the GNWT’s SEED policy can help you start a business and develop skills or business capacity. SEED funding also supports projects and events in communities that help to expand or grow the economy. There are five programs under the SEED Policy

First launched in September 2008, the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Policy is the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment’s (ITI) flagship program, providing more than $17 million in grants and contributions every year across different sectors in the north. In recent years, ITI has increased the amount of funding available to applicants under the SEED policy.

How do I participate?

Online through this engagement platform:

What’s important to us

As much as possible, government investments should benefit NWT businesses and residents.

We're committed to making changes needed to make sure ITI policies and guidelines are giving the support that NWT businesses need to grow in the post-COVID economic recovery while keeping their unique circumstances in mind.

How will my contribution make a difference?

Any thoughts and observations – and especially experiences and ideas – that you can provide to us through this platform will help us make informed decisions.

This is an opportunity for you to join the NWT-wide conversation – we want you to tell us what matters to you.

Where can I find more information?

How we’re reviewing these policies

By hearing your feedback through ITI's online survey and discussion forum.

We want to highlight that this is a conversation – we want you to tell us what matters to you.

To take a look at the SEED Policy click here.

To take a look at the SEED Policy Guidelines click here.

Consultation has concluded
  • Changes to the SEED Policy since 2008

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    Previous to now the SEED Policy has been reviewed internally by ITI; regional staff flag questions and issues that they and clients raise and then work with headquarters to develop solutions.

    Since its inception, the SEED Policy has been augmented (via guidelines), or changed (changes to the policy text itself), seven times:

    Year-Month

    Document

    Changes

    2009–06

    Guidelines

    SEED Policy Guidelines developed and enacted

    2012–04

    Prospector Grubstake Program

    SEED Policy funding guidelines for the Prospector Grubstake Program developed and enacted

    2017–06

    Film Funding Schedule

    SEED Policy funding schedule for the Film sector developed and enacted

    2017–03

    SEED Policy

    Minor text corrections made in the SEED Policy, and several program changes made:

    • Increased maximum contribution limit for the Entrepreneur Support program to $25,000 (from $15,000)
    • Increased maximum available to Micro-Business clients to $5,000 over 3 years (from $5,000 over 5 years)
    • Introduced Strategic Investment program

    2018–03

    Guidelines

    SEED Policy Guidelines changed from being prescriptive based to being guidance based

    2019–04

    SEED Policy

    Minor text corrections made in the SEED Policy, and two program changes made:

    • Added the text “prospecting” to eligible activities under the Micro-Business program
    • Changed the text of the Business Intelligence and Networking program to clarify policy intent and encourage travel in the NWT

    2019–04

    Prospector Support Program

    Simplified the Prospector Grubstake Program guidelines and expanded funding options; retitled to the Prospector Support Program (note as well the direct tie-in to the Micro-Business program above)

  • Equity

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    Equity

    In the SEED Policy, Equity refers to the applicant’s contribution to a project. The equity required of a client is based on:

    Community

    1. Type of Equity
    2. Program
    3. Budgets and Evaluations


    1. Communities and Community Levels

    The SEED Policy recognizes that different communities in the Northwest Territories have different economic and business circumstance (see Section 9, Page 16 under Equity Requirements):

    For a project to be considered, applicants must normally contribute the following minimum Equity that may include Sweat Equity:

    • 30 percent in Level 1 Communities, and
    • 20 percent in Level 2 Communities.

    Community Levels are defined earlier in SEED Policy (see Section 5, Page 3):

    Level 1 Communities

    The most developed Communities within the NWT. These Communities have well developed Community business infrastructure and air/road transportation links. These Communities are Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik and Yellowknife.

    Level 2 Communities

    These Communities have less-developed business infrastructure and air/road transportation links. Level 2 Communities include all Communities other than those listed as Level 1.

    This is consistent with the goals of the SEED Policy, namely to: “Diversify the NWT economy and promote equitable distribution of benefits among NWT Communities.”, (see Section 2, Page 1).

    2. Type of Equity

    The default consideration, of Equity, for the SEED Policy is some form of cash equity, for the purposes of the SEED Policy (see Section 5, Page 3), Equity is defined as:

    Cash, land or any asset with unencumbered residual value contributed to the venture by the owner(s) or shareholder(s).

    Later on a definition for Sweat Equity can be found (see Section 5, Page 4):

    This means the documented value of labour that the applicant contributes to the project, calculated based on the prevailing labour rate where the project is located.

    Sweat Equity then is distinctly NOT cash based, labour can be considered as part of the applicant’s equity; Sweat Equity is specifically mentioned in the Micro-Business program of the SEED Policy.

    3. Program

    An Equity requirement is universal to all SEED Policy programs. That said some programs do treat the Equity requirement a little differently.

    Entrepreneur Support

    The Operational Support category (see Section 8, Page 9) of the Entrepreneur Support program speaks to helping NWT businesses under distress and requiring support specific to that type of distress.

    (iv) Operational Support

    Assistance may be provided to increase business skills and capacity or to:

    1. Identify and address problems faced by the business;
    2. Develop a recovery or restructuring plan;
    3. Provide emergency relief to effect business recovery; or
    4. Assist with the cost of "winding down" a business that has a minimal net worth and cannot meet its financial obligations and which could hurt other businesses and employment opportunities if allowed to fail in a disorderly manner.

    A General Condition of the Entrepreneur Support program then states that:

    All business applicants will be required to demonstrate need and financial sustainability. Equity requirements may be waived in the case of business relief.

    So the Entrepreneur Support program does allow, in very specific cases, the waiver of the Equity requirement of the SEED Policy.

    Micro-Business

    The Micro-Business program (see Section 8, Page 11) under the SEED Policy is open to:

    All (NWT) Residents engaged in traditional harvesting activities or arts and crafts production for commercial purposes, prospecting or other self-employment activities are eligible for assistance under the Micro-Business category.

    An allowable Exception (see Page 12) under Micro-Business allows for the use of Sweat Equity:

    1. Equity may be in the form of Sweat Equity where the client does not have sufficient cash Equity and income.

    There is a SEED Policy Guideline for Sweat Equity under Micro-Business:

    General guideline(s):

    Should be appropriate to activity; specific examples used comprise that of a harvester building a cabin on their line or a craftsperson tanning their own moosehide – the materials to build/make it would require contribution dollars while the effort to build/make it would require ‘sweat’.

    For arts and craft producers, cash equity should be requested (as with other applications); where cash equity is not available sweat equity may be considered. Sweat equity in this case could be based on the applicant’s past production to the extent that, in the opinion of the Regional Superintendent, the applicant has the skills, ability and past record to make use of raw materials to produce finished products for sale.

    Business Intelligence and Networking

    The Business Intelligence and Networking program (see Section 8, Page 13) is the only program under the SEED Policy that the Equity requirement written directly into it:

    1. Amount:
    • Assistance may be provided to a maximum of $4,000 per Resident per trip. A NWT Business may submit an application for as many as two Residents.
    • The maximum funding available to any Resident or NWT Business in the Business Intelligence and Networking category is $8,000 per year.
    • For travel within the NWT trip costs must exceed $1,500 per individual. Applicants must contribute $500 of equity per individual for eligible costs of travel within the NWT.
    • For travel outside the NWT trip costs must exceed $1,500 per individual. Applicants must contribute $1,000 of equity per individual for eligible costs of travel outside the NWT.


    4. Projects, Budgets, and Evaluations

    Contributed Equity is often tied to the size of project – large projects often have more Equity than the 20-30% required in policy.

    As well, Regional Superintendents are responsible for the operation of the SEED Policy in their regions, a core part of that is managing their budgets. In the course of managing their budgets a Regional Superintendent has to make hard decisions regarding what projects they will fund and to what extent they will fund a project. It is not uncommon for a Regional Superintendent to approve funding less than the ask of a project proposal.

  • Market Disruption

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    Market Disruption

    Market Disruption is defined in SEED Policy (see Section 5, Page 3) thusly:

    Market Disruption

    Circumstances when, in the opinion of the Regional Superintendent, the granting of a contribution will likely adversely and significantly impact the revenue earned by another business within the Region.

    Assisting a business in a community that is being served by a business not from that community shall not be considered market disruptive.

    Assisting a business to significantly access markets in another community, where that market is being served by a business in the other community, could be considered market disruptive.

    That definition is augmented by a SEED Policy Guideline:

    Specific guideline regarding: “business in a community”

    Location of business is defined as: being where the majority of the business activity proposed would occur.

    The definition makes clear the role of the Regional Superintendent in determining whether or not a project is market disruptive. The definition then provides one hard and fast rule “… shall not be…” with one determinative rule “… could be considered…”.

    This responsibility is explicitly mirrored in the Duties and Responsibilities section of the SEED Policy regarding Regional Superintendents (see Section 7, Page 7):

    1. Approve or decline applications, including determination of whether or not a proposal may cause Market Disruption;

    The SEED Policy does supply some clarity in regards to the extent to which Market Disruption affects a business, in Objectives (see Section 3, Page 2):

    Assistance will not be provided where existing local business sustainability in a similar market will be adversely affected;

    Finally, the SEED Policy makes it clear that where Market Disruption may be a factor, the Minister may step in (see Section 9, Page 17):

    1. Where Market Disruption may be a factor, the Minister may advertise the proposed contribution and/or solicit interventions from competing businesses.

    In practice this clause has been used by ITI to help an applicant by allowing them to solicit their competitors in the market identified as to whether or not those competitors see the project/applicant as actually being market disruptive – essentially, if the competitors do not see an issue then neither should ITI.