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FarmWorks is Charting a Path for Growth in Nova Scotia

Posted at August 17, 2015 | By : | Categories : Blog,Press Releases | 0 Comment

FarmWorks is Charting a Path for Growth in Nova Scotia

Shareholders in FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF) are helping to create employment and increase production and profitability in the food sector in Nova Scotia.

The first four FarmWorks CEDIF Offers raised $1,033,400 within 38 months, $1,056,000 has been loaned to 44 food-related businesses, all expenses have been paid and there is $210,000 in the Credit Union. Monthly loan repayments add to the amount available to be loaned to new applicants after exacting due diligence procedures have been completed. Payment by clients of the principle and interest at six percent commences three months after loans are disbursed. No fees are charged for applications or early repayment and Directors and Advisors provide mentoring, networking and promotion. Businesses benefit from FarmWorks capacity to link producers and customers and create a matrix of food supply and multiple points of sale.

FarmWorks was established in 2011 to promote and provide strategic and responsible community investment in local food production and distribution in order to help increase agricultural and related economic activity and provide access to sustainable local food for all Nova Scotians.

Shareholders who chose to hold investments for 15 years in FarmWorks Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF) will receive cumulative Provincial tax credits of 65% in addition to dividends paid in five year installments. Invested funds are used to provide subordinated debt to farms and food-related businesses. Applicants’ values and goals must align with those of FarmWorks, and diligent review of business plans, financial projections and feasibility by directors and/or advisors precedes any Board decision to lend.. Protection of shareholder investments in FarmWorks is paramount in order to ensure the ongoing operational and reputational success of the CEDIF.

A survey carried out at 18 months indicated that the first 18 businesses receiving loans created 20 full time and six part time jobs in addition to 21 full time and 14 part time positions held in their businesses by the owners themselves. For startup and young businesses roughly 25% of their total capital came from FarmWorks, representing a significant contribution to their businesses. For established businesses, loans accounted for 1.5% to 100% of specific project capital.

Starting in September a student in the Masters in Public Administration program at Dalhousie will be carrying out a survey of the first 36 months of operation to assess the economic, social and other benefits provided by FarmWorks’ investors’ loans to food-related businesses.

FarmWorks is having a significant effect on Nova Scotia’s agri-food sector by strengthening many food and farming businesses. Recognizing that access to high quality local food for people everywhere is a significant challenge, FarmWorks has been keen to support restaurants, and food outlets featuring local products in many of our communities. The networking and trickle-down effects have been remarkable as we have seen demand for local product grow, and new alliances between producers and purveyors of fine Nova Scotia food develop. FarmWorks is helping to chart a path for growth by investing in all facets of local food production and distribution, while improving food security – a key determinant of the health of people, communities, and the economy of Nova Scotia.

FarmWorks’ ability to attract investment into the sector depends on the success of the clients, but also on the growing awareness of the benefits of local food production as a key to community economic resiliency, improved health outcomes, security of food supply and biodiversity. Sustainable food production is fertile ground for investors seeking returns on ethical investments. Over three years of operations FarmWorks has seen interest grow in an investment vehicle that keeps Nova Scotian’s dollars working for Nova Scotians. Our challenge for the future is to reach more and more people who want to invest in our own future. Our immediate goal: to double the total invested in FarmWorks by 2016.

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