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PEI FarmWorks Offers Islanders a Chance to Invest in Island Agri-Enterprises

Posted at August 7, 2012 | By : | Categories : News & Events | 0 Comment

Islanders will soon have an opportunity to use their investment dollars to grow the province’s number one industry, agriculture and agri-food, right here at home.

PEI FarmWorks is the first investment cooperative set up under the Community Economic Development Business (CEDB) program announced last August by Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.

The CEDB program helps strengthen local communities by offering Islanders a new method to invest in economic development, said Sheridan. “Islanders want to invest in Islanders – in Island businesses that have the potential to benefit the community and foster growth in the local economy,” he said.

Here’s how it works. Investors have the opportunity to put their investment dollars into local Island businesses. In return the Province of Prince Edward Island provides a 35 per cent personal income tax credit, and the investment is RRSP eligible.

“Right now, we are finalizing our constitution and bylaws,” said long time Augustine Cove farmer Elmer MacDonald, who chairs P.E. I. FarmWorks. “We will be kicking off a publicity campaign in the near future to let Islanders know what we are about.”

Phil Ferraro, director of Institute for Bioregional Studies initiated the idea of P.E.I. FarmWorks after learning of the success of a similar investment cooperative in Nova Scotia. Ferraro said that he has attracted a board of directors made up of certified accountants, farmers and social entrepreneurs who will scrutinize business plans to ensure that private investment goes to credible agri-business operations.

David Tingley of the PEI Cooperative Council has been working on behalf of the province to promote CEDBs on Prince Edward Island. He said the program allows Islanders to invest up to $20,000 annually in return for a tax credit of up to $7,000.

According to Ferraro, investing in local businesses is a key to economic prosperity. “We are responding to global trends among consumers to buy local, know your farmers and increase food security.”

“PEI FarmWorks will help support and sustain a new generation of Island agriculture and give Islanders an opportunity to invest in ourselves, said Ferraro. It provides one of the best opportunities we have to harness the strengths of citizens right across the Province to support a culture of economic, social, and environmental sustainability, while at the same time providing significant tax benefits for that support.”

While the concept may be new to this province, MacDonald said it has an enviable record of success in other areas. In Nova Scotia, for example, over $36 million has been invested in over 50 projects since the fund was established, in 1999. “Each year, $90 million dollars leaves Prince Edward Island and goes to investment agencies primarily in central Canada. Just think of what that money could accomplish if we kept it right here at home.”

MacDonald is also the current chair of the PEI ADAPT Council. “During my time on the board I have seen that there is no shortage of innovation and entrepreneurship within the agricultural community on PEI.” He is excited about the program, adding “I fully expect we will have the same kind of success they have enjoyed in Nova Scotia.”

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