June 16, 2010

Updating last year’s study on the impact of the Community Futures Program on rural Ontario, new research shows a continued positive impact.  Again, it confirms what many involved in the Community Futures Program have long believed:  “The Program has significant economic bang for the buck,” is the way the independent research organization, the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) sums it up.

Entitled “Assessing the Impact of the Community Futures Lending Program:  An Economic Impact Analysis of the Community Futures Lending Program on Ontario’s Economy”, the study was commissioned by the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC).  The research was conducted by Pedro Antunes, Director of the Board’s National and Provincial Forecast group, under the direction of Paul Darby, Deputy Chief Economist at the Conference Board.

Factoring in hard data from 2009, to the existing information covering 2004 to 2008, the Conference Board applied its well- tested Ontario econometric model, noting that from 2004 to 2009 inclusive, the program disbursed $344.7 million in loans and raised a total of $910 million in new capital investment funds in Ontario.  A total of 20,219 person-years of employment were created by the program over six years.

The report goes on to point out “for each $1.00 of direct lending through the program, real GDP is lifted by nearly $4.22.” This is up from the $4.20 indicated in last year’s report.

While the federal government invested nearly $139 million in Ontario’s Community Futures Program over six years, the study indicates that $233 million went back to the government in personal income taxes and indirect taxes.  This lift in economic activity provided the government with a net gain of $94 million.

With Ontario hard hit by the fallout of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the OACFDC asked for the study to be updated to ensure their CFDC members were reacting to the economy.  OACFDC President Judy Nafziger says her Association is pleased with the findings of the report.  “We’ve known for many years that our small business lending program has had a huge positive impact on our towns and rural communities.  It’s very rewarding to see that an independent study completed by a well-recognized organization like the Conference Board of Canada has substantiated that.  It also points out that in times of economic challenge the services of CFDCs will become even more vital, as together with our partners at Industry Canada, we work to return our rural communities to prosperity,” Ms. Nafziger added.

There are 61 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) across rural and Northern Ontario.  They offer free business counselling, loans for start-up and expansion of small business, strategic planning on local projects, and community economic development.  Each CFDC is locally managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, funded through Industry Canada’s Community Futures Program.  To learn more about CFDCs in Ontario or the OACFDC, go to