SAINT-LÉONARD (CNB) – The provincial government is establishing the $200-million Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund to stimulate job creation and address the economic challenges of Northern New Brunswick.

“This fund will help empower businesses and communities to grow, create jobs and find new ways to attract and retain investment in northern New Brunswick," said Premier David Alward.

Alward and Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud unveiled the fund as part of the government's overall economic strategy. Business and municipal leaders from northwestern New Brunswick attended the announcement.

"Our plan for northern New Brunswick is to invest in priority sectors that will support and accelerate the growth and innovation of our local entrepreneurs," said Robichaud.

The fund will support projects intended to develop, diversify and grow the economy and communities of the region by finding new ways to attract and retain investment. It will focus on five prioritized areas:

●    growth and development capital;
●    adoption of information and communication technology;
●    research, development and innovation;
●    improving strategic infrastructure: and
●    advanced workforce development.

Under the management of the Regional Development Corporation, the fund will provide incremental assistance of  $200 million over a four-year period from September 2011, to March 31, 2015. Assistance may be in the form of a non-repayable contribution, interest-free or interest-bearing loans; or loan guarantees.

Projects in Victoria, Madawaska, Restigouche and Gloucester counties will be eligible for assistance from the fund.