Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada has said that our government is laying the foundation for Canadians to become more competitive and succeed in the global economy. Today’s three-year investment to support the Export Navigator program builds on our competitive advantages and will result in increased access to exporting resources for small- and medium-sized enterprises, boosting economic growth and creating good, middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

To help more rural business owners in B.C. get their goods to international and interprovincial markets, the Export Navigator initiative will be expanded to offer specialized support for businesses owned by Indigenous peoples, women and youth.

“Finding ways to support the hard-working people who fuel these businesses can only pay dividends in terms of jobs and growth,” said Mary Ng, federal Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, on behalf of Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Through the Export Navigator program, we are delivering on our priorities like inclusive growth, business productivity and economic competitiveness.”

“Export activity directly benefits communities throughout B.C., creating jobs in every corner of our province,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “So far, Export Navigator has helped 317 small businesses at all stages of exporting. Working with Minister Mary Ng and the federal government, we now have an opportunity to expand the program by further assisting Indigenous peoples, women and youth.”

Building on the success of the pilot program, Export Navigator helps B.C. businesses become export-ready by providing community-based export advisors who connect businesses with programs and services that are unique to their business needs. These specially trained advisors provide personalized, step-by-step approaches to help businesses become export-ready by helping them navigate the many services available to them and tackle the logistics of customs certifications and other export requirements.

The new export advisors will support businesses owned by Indigenous peoples, women and youth. They will also provide additional support to all regional advisors and businesses enrolled in the program. Previously, there were six export advisors. This expansion brings the total to 10 advisors, serving six B.C. economic development regions.

“While B.C. is the fourth-largest exporter in Canada, only a small percentage of small businesses are exporting,” said George Chow, B.C.’s Minister of State for Trade. “The expanded Export Navigator program will help more small, rural businesses build capacity to export, expanding their customer base and supporting good jobs.”

The Province is contributing $2 million over two years, with a third year of funding to be confirmed following a review of program outcomes. The federal government will provide up to $2.25 million over three years, for a total of $4.25 million toward the expanded program.

In the latter part of 2018, B.C.’s Small Business Task Force recommended the Province expand the Export Navigator program and make it a permanent provincial program. Export Navigator is managed by the Province in partnership with Western Economic Diversification Canada and delivered through Small Business BC and Community Futures. The pilot supports the collective commitment to build a strong, sustainable economy that works for everyone by growing regional economic development.