The provincial government is loosening the purse strings as the May 9 B.C. election nears File Photo

Penticton benefiting from provincial funding

New economic development strategy to build on rural advantages in Penticton

Penticton has been the recipient of some provincial government largess recently, with some funding aimed at building infrastructure, creating jobs and economic activities in the region.

The Rural Economic Development Strategy includes a three-pronged approach to build, strengthen, and diversify rural communities, with investments the province expects to support up to 26,600 direct and indirect jobs with an overall impact of $2.8 billion to provincial GDP.

Targeted initiatives include $40 million to expand and enhance high-speed Internet and an extension of the $25 million Rural Dividend Fund to reinvigorate and diversify more local economies.

“Building on our Rural Advantages demonstrates that our government understands the importance of rural B.C. as part of our strong economy. It means creating opportunity for people no matter where they live,” said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.

Penticton and District Multicultural Society will receive $94,052 to provide job-readiness training and skills enhancement to underrepresented populations in the region with the intent to eliminate or reduce the barriers immigrant and refugee youth face to actively participate in the labour market and improve labour market outcomes of newcomers living in rural and remote centres.

There is also $108,200 for trades equipment funding for the Okanagan Skaha School District, and $185,201 in Connecting British Columbia Grant Funding for ispeed Communications to expand and enhance Internet access in the Okanagan.

The province is also phasing out provincial sales tax on electricity purchases by reducing it to 3.5 per cent and eliminating it by April 1, 2019, with the goal of reducing business competitiveness and economic performance, especially for resource industries like commercial agriculture, forestry and mining.

Also promoting business, the province is dropping the small business tax rate to 2 per cent in April.

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