FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has partnered with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce to operate a program to further assist immigrant entrepreneurs in the Fredericton region.

The program, known as the Hive, is a business incubator which assists entrepreneurs by offering them support, space, training, and networking opportunities while they prepare their business plans. A similar program was launched in Moncton last year as a pilot project.

“The Hive represents our government's innovative approach to supporting immigrant entrepreneurs,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr. “In fact it is the first and only program of its kind in Canada. We have seen success with the Moncton Hive, and are confident our investment in Fredericton will prove just as effective in helping new immigrant-owned businesses flourish.”

The incubator is a natural progression for participants in the Business Immigrant Mentorship Program, which is also operated through the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased to be expanding our programming for immigrant entrepreneurs after pioneering the Business Immigrant Mentorship Program,” said Krista Ross, chief executive officer for the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. “Creating an environment where our immigrant entrepreneurs are comfortable asking questions, helping them learn about doing business in this country and encouraging inclusive integration into the community are top priorities for both the chamber and the provincial government. We are doing great things in New Brunswick and are definitely on the winning side of successful business starts with the programming we have in place.”

In Fredericton, the Hive has signed a community partner agreement to provide participants with a membership to Planet Hatch. This allows them the opportunity to be connected with training, mentoring and networking opportunities. A board room, mentoring zone and community rental space is also available.

The Hive participants also has have access to the services of Ignite Fredericton, a new economic development agency offering counselling and tools for entrepreneurs in the Fredericton area.

“Our government recognizes that in order to fully support people, skills and jobs, and in order to help strengthen our economy, we need to provide the necessary environment for new ideas to develop and for businesses to grow,” said Carr. “This program does exactly this, but also helps immigrants fully connect with their new community.”

There are currently four entrepreneurs enrolled in the program. The program is still accepting participants.