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Newmont leading contributions to Timmins COVID business relief effort

Donation of $250,000 will help small businesses reopen safely
The City of Timmins (Northern Ontario Business file photo)

Gold miner Newmont Porcupine is contributing $250,000 to a suite of new funding initiatives to help small businesses in Timmins get back up and running post-COVID-19.

They're designed as a boost to help small businesses that were forced to close after being deemed non-essential under the province’s emergency order in March.

Guided by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, the initiative also includes the Venture Centre, a Community Futures Development Corp., and MNP, an accounting, tax, and business consulting firm.

During a May 11 digital news conference, Chamber president Val Venneri lauded the work of the partners in coming together to help local recovery efforts.

“These businesses have not been generating revenue and have subsequently incurred extraordinary expenses in order to comply with the new requirements as a result of COVID-19," he said.

Geared toward small businesses and organizations that generate less than $2 million in annual sales, the initiative comprises four funding streams.

Under the $100,000 Business Restart Program, eligible businesses can apply for funds of up to $2,000 to help offset the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) – things like masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, or plexiglass barriers – in preparation to reopen.

That program is also available to business owners in the town of Chapleau, where Newmont operates the Borden underground gold mine east of the city.

In partnership with the Venture Centre, the $200,000 Timmins Emergency Response Loan provides small loans to businesses that are ineligible for the provincial or federal assistance programs, or those that require bridge funding until funds from those programs flow.

Through the Professional Services Fund, MNP will provide micro-consultations, valued at $40,000, to small businesses that don’t have the staff resources in a professional services capacity. This fund is open to businesses generating less than $300,000 in annual wages or revenue.

The fourth stream is a $30,000 contribution to the Chamber’s ‘Find it in Timmins’ marketing campaign, which encourages consumers to keep their money circulating in the community by shopping with local businesses.

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Chamber CAO Keitha Robson said these ideas were all generated during discussions of the Strategic Business Continuity and Recovery Task Force, which was jointly formed in April by the Chamber and the City of Timmins.

“As we identified projects through that group, we then started reaching out to partners in the community to see if we could find the support,” she said.

“We were very pleased that Newmont was first to answer our call and followed quickly by the Venture Centre and MNP LLP.”

Bryan Neeley, Newmont Porcupine’s manager of sustainability and external relations, noted that the company is in a unique position because it operates a gold mine right in the middle of the city, putting it in close proximity to many of those local businesses.

The gold miner annually spends between $80 million and $100 million in the community, not including its payroll, Neeley said.

“We want those businesses to be around; we and our employees go into those businesses,” said Neely, calling Newmont a "proud community partner."

“We want our employees to be safe and we want all the community businesses to reopen safely, so it's a great initiative.”

Newmont’s contribution is in addition to earlier funding the company announced for COVID-19 relief efforts.

In early April, Newmont said it would contribute $150,000 to social services initiatives in Timmins and Chapleau as part of its $20-million Newmont Global Community Support Fund, created in an effort to help the communities in which it operates.

Timmins Mayor George Pirie commended the partners for their ingenuity and commitment, calling it a “tremendously exciting” initiative.

“It speaks to the type of community that we live in,” Pirie said.

“This is a wonderful community in large part because of the partners that we're talking about here today, and it speaks well for the future of our city.”