FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is providing more than $100,000 to the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce to help launch Succession Connect, a pilot program meant to match immigrants with local turnkey businesses.

“Our government strives to help newcomers and immigrants feel welcome and supported,” said Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman. “This program will help grow the economy while connecting newcomer entrepreneurs with meaningful opportunities so they can become long-term members of our workforce.”

Horsman made the announcement on behalf of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault, whose responsibilities also include immigration.

Succession Connect was developed to help address the province’s aging population and business closures due to retirements, along with the need to retain and settle immigrant investors. The program will provide opportunities for newcomers seeking business investments and for aging business owners who would like to see their legacies continued.

“The federal government believes public investment is an important catalyst that spurs economic growth, job creation and broad-based prosperity,” said Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey. “The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s immigrant matching program is an important pilot project that will provide the critical structure needed to highlight new opportunities for both immigrants and our local businesses, creating good quality jobs for all our citizens while growing and strengthening our local economy.”

DeCourcey attended for federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains.

“Fredericton is on course to grow in the coming years, and a lot of that growth will come from immigration,” said Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien. “This innovative pilot program will help create the best conditions for immigrant investors to find business opportunities, giving them the best chance to succeed. We think it's a winning formula."

The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is providing $102,820 for the project, while the federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program, is contributing $259,224. The City of Fredericton is providing $78,007 and a number of corporate sponsors are giving $65,720.

“The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to launch the Succession Connect program that addresses two clear needs that will immediately benefit our local economy: providing an avenue for business owners to sell their operations, while dramatically increasing the chances of success for entrepreneurial newcomers, which will help our community retain more of them for the long term,” said Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO Krista Ross. “Newcomers bring needed skills, an entrepreneurial spirit and cultural diversity, all of which are positive additions to New Brunswick's economic and social future.”