B.C. Premier John Horgan and Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announce grants for businesses to set up online sales at the B.C. legislature, March 17, 2021. (B.C. government)

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announce grants for businesses to set up online sales at the B.C. legislature, March 17, 2021. (B.C. government)

B.C. launches $500M fund to subsidize green business growth

InBC ‘prioritizes our people and planet with profits,’ minister says

The B.C. government is setting up a new Crown corporation called InBC Investment Corp. with $500 million to finance the growth of businesses chosen for their ability to advance social and environmental as well as business objectives.

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon introduced legislation Tuesday to establish the corporation’s board of directors and a “chief investment officer” to make decisions on what businesses are supported.

“InBC will make investments in small and medium-sized businesses through a triple-bottom-line mandate that equally values and prioritizes our people and planet with profits,” Kahlon told the B.C. legislature April 27.

Kahlon and Premier John Horgan described the investment fund as a way to grow smaller businesses that advance the government’s climate change and Indigenous reconciliation goals, while keeping businesses from being taken over or leaving the province.

“InBC will provide a source of patient capital to build a more innovative low-carbon economy by investing in high-potential business to help them to scale and grow in B.C.,” a ministry presentation says.

A board of directors with two deputy ministers and seven private-sector directors is being established by the legislation, which gives the chief investment officer “sole authority” to make investment decisions without board or government involvement.

Horgan said the new investment corporation is modelled on those in Ireland and Denmark, and will focus on technology, life sciences and innovators to get the province towards its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Business representatives endorsed the plan, emphasizing the need to keep new businesses owned and growing in the province.

“Where we struggled is in scaling companies,” said Wendy Hurlburt, president of LifeSciences B.C.

Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the Business Council of B.C., said high-wage jobs and employment for Indigenous people can grow only if companies can develop in the province. He cited B.C.’s successes in virtual animation for movies and gaming, life sciences and agricultural technology.

“Access to capital is critically important to our economy and innovative businesses as they seek to scale and compete globally,” D’Avignon said.

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