First Nations and Small communities on Vancouver Island are receiving financial assistance to hire staff to promote economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Island Coastal Economic Trust is distributing money to 17 communities to staff 20 temporary jobs dealing with economic recovery.

ICET Board Chair, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, who is also the Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, says is encouraged that the majority of the funding is being targeted toward small communities and Indigenous communities.

“Smaller, rural, and remote communities have big needs. They also have big ideas that these resources will help bring to life.”

Among the recipients is Economic Development Cowichan, which will get 70-thousand dollars to hire a part-time coordinator to direct business recovery support in rural areas of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The Stz’uminus First Nation will receive 50-thousand dollars for a part-time position to help the Coast Salish Development Corporation business group reimagine and adapt business models and strategies,

The Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce is being allocated 50-thousand dollars for a full-time Economic Recovery Specialist to develop programs and services to support stabilization and recovery.

The Southern Gulf Islands will receive 70-thousand dollars for a Community Economic Development Director to create planning and development initiatives improving socio-economic and business development.

ICET says the second funding application intake showed strong interest from smaller communities and Indigenous communities that now have assistance in tackling key challenges and opportunities.