April 2014

[By Jim Niesen, Business & Loans Manager, HBDC]

The Huron Business Development Corporation (HBDC) serves the community of Huron County (population 59,325), which consists of 9 municipalities and a business population of about 6,000, including approximately 2,100 farm enterprises.  Currently in its 21st year, HBDC has, to date, provided assistance and programming to 40% of Huron’s 6,000 businesses.  Interestingly, the sector that HBDC struggles with the most in trying to provide services and assistance to is agriculture.  If farm enterprises are removed from the calculation, HBDC’s market penetration rate increases to nearly 60%.

While small business loans might be the most visible and recognizable of HBDC’s services to the community, its counselling, training and CED activities have been fundamental in helping the organization achieve this remarkable level of client saturation.  In recent years, HBDC has attempted to overcome its lower impact within the agricultural sector by becoming involved in developing food processing capacity, local farm gate marketing, and the introduction of new crops, such as fish farming and grape growing.

Over the past 21 years, HBDC has worked with over 200 individual partner organizations on 250 separate community economic development projects.  Besides generating improved economic activity and community sustainability in their own right, these projects and partnerships funnel individuals and businesses into HBDC’s lending, counselling and training programs.  In pursuing these activities, HBDC has been recognized locally, provincially, and nationally by its peers with 27 awards in the field of rural economic development!  This success is directly attributable to HBDC’s willingness and ability to partner with, well….just about anyone and any organization.  It is these partnerships, whether with banks, grassroots organizations, government, non-profits, local business organizations or other CFDCs, that have kept HBDC vibrant and dynamic for 21 years.

Based upon HBDC’s history and record of success, the next 2 decades look very good indeed!

Staff Picture L-R:  Brenda McGregor, Heather Little, Paul Nichol, Jim Niesen – Missing:  Cathy Dunseith (who just happens to be in Hawaii)!