Disbursing more than $3.1 million in loans, the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) continues to be the most active lender of 61 community futures development corporations (CFDC) in the province, board chair Pat Kennedy told the 37th annual AGM Oct. 4.

Held at the Red Umbrella Inn, Kennedy acknowledged FedDev’s ongoing support and said HCDC remains committed to strategically implementing the priorities of the federal government.

Kennedy said they received the most funding of any CFDC in southern Ontario and claimed the largest investment fund, valued at $21.3 million, of the 267 CFDCs in Canada.

“We continue to support community economic development initiatives, the growth of new and existing businesses and the creation of sustainable jobs in Haliburton County,” Kennedy said. He added they also assist not-for-profit organizations with community strategic planning and provide funding through their “unique” and “very successful” Local Initiatives Program (LIP).

Kennedy, who is returning as board chair, added, “we remain devoted and committed to meeting the needs of our Haliburton Highlands community as we transition through the impacts of the pandemic. The basis of this focus is to make businesses, organizations and communities more nimble, effective, profitable and sustainable, creating new wealth, new jobs and contributing to community economic development.”

He noted there had been many changes for businesses and charitable organizations in the past year. He said they had to adapt and pivot quickly to meet challenges, such as COVID restrictions and labour shortages. He said HCDC had seen significant increases in service volumes and administered new funding programs.

The outgoing Dysart deputy mayor added at HCDC, they view each application, “with a heart as well as a calculator.”

During the meeting, Tim Degeer of Dawson Gray presented a clean audit.

Executive director Patti Tallman said that in addition to loans, HCDC had provided business services to 69 companies, helped create or maintain 253 jobs, provided in-depth counselling to 118 businesses or non-profits, and made 128 referrals.

Loans officer, Sara Joanu, said they presented 47 loan applications to the investment committee, of which 33 were approved, five declined and nine withdrawn by the client after approval.

She acknowledged it was a much slower year from 2021: 33 loans, versus 52 in 2021; value of dollars approved about $5.1 million, compared to $6.4 million in 2021; and value of dollars dispersed just over $3 million, compared to more than $5.1 million in 2021.

She attributed that to businesses being able to access COVID relief funding while others actually flourished during the pandemic. Joanu said to date, the bulk of loans, nearly 40 per cent, have gone into restaurants, landscaping, hair salons, accounting and auto repair.

As for community economic development, program and operations coordinator, Heather Reid, said they’d helped with six strategic plans, worked with 22 community partners in planning, and disbursed $165,000. She highlighted the mural wall of sports heroes, and the Haliburton Highlands Art Centre Foundation feasibility study. The LIP helped 25 projects and 53 partners with $86,500 disbursed. Reid said the pandemic also gave them the opportunity to “reimagine” the incubator space in downtown Haliburton. She added they are not done yet.

The AGM also saw the election of two new directors; Mark Bell and Tammy Rea. Leaving are: Dale Bull and Peter Smith.