For the community, by the community

For the community, by the community

< Back to Articles | Topics: Special Feature

Contributors:

Mina Atia
Communications Coordinator

This past year, we’ve seen Halifax business leaders and organizations step up for their community and local businesses by offering their support. Whether it be providing free and accessible informational training sessions and roundtables or offering funding programs and low-interest loans, community organizations and businesses have given back. It goes to show when the going gets tough, we can rely on the support of our business community.

Since 2015, CUA has been making impactful investments through their Community Investment Grant Program. Committed to strengthening the financial health of Nova Scotians, the program contributes to projects and initiatives that make our communities and economy stronger.

“As a banking institution serving Nova Scotians, our team is committed to helping good work go further in the communities where we live and work,” says Marie Mullally, President and CEO of CUA.

“The program is the largest initiative within our annual Community Impact Plan, and enables our team the opportunity to learn about important work happening across our province, driving meaningful conversations about how we can help entrepreneurs and community leaders in their everyday work.”

Each year since then, CUA provides direct funding to individuals, organizations, small businesses and social enterprises from across the province. It’s a way to create meaningful and positive economic, social and environmental impact. About 70 organizations throughout Nova Scotia received more than $250,000 in funding, and applications for the program increased by 33 per cent in 2021.

CUA’s Community Investment Grant Program launched again this year, and $100,000 in funding was awarded to 19 projects, organizations and small businesses. “This was the largest and most talented group of applicants in the program’s history, and these 19 recipients had ideas and a vision that made us so proud to be part of their continued work,” says Mullally.

The recipients collective aim is to make a positive impact in communities across Nova Scotia. The grant was distributed across five categories: New Business, Community, Health & Wellness, Small Business and Sustainability.

Selected by CUA’s Member Advisory Council, the recipients gathered for a virtual celebration to recognize and discuss the impact the funding will have. “Although we were unable to invite recipients to an in-person celebration, eliminating the need to travel enabled a virtual celebration, welcoming representatives from many organizations across Nova Scotia,” says Mullally. “It was an inclusive way to shine a spotlight on every recipient, and is an idea we plan to carry forward.”

“For our team, these micro-grants are much more than money,” says Mullally. “We continue to follow the journey of the recipients, promoting their efforts and encouraging our own customers to choose Nova Scotia-owned businesses.”

A perfect example is Halifax Chamber member and 2017 Small Business grant recipient Stefanie MacDonald of Halifax Paper Hearts. The seaside stationery and design studio owner not only prospered after receiving the grant, but she also became connected to other recipients. Now, the whimsical treasure-maker has products of at least two other recipients sold in her retail store.

“Helping to foster those connections goes beyond money––that’s helping entrepreneurs to build a network that will continue to deliver value in the future,” says Mullally.

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CONTRIBUTED: Chain Yard's owners contact-less delivering orders during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Amongst the 2021 recipients were two other Chamber members: Chain Yard Cider was awarded a $7,500 grant for the Small Business category; and Greenii Inc. was awarded a $8,500 grant for Sustainability.

“It was a great day when I found out we won!” says Mike Lim, Partner and Operations Manager of Chain Yard Cider. “I told the other owners first and then started messaging the suppliers.”

The grant will facilitate the purchase of a Nova-Scotia-manufactured “fizz whizz” carbonation system for the urban cidery. This canning equipment will improve on-site production by allowing the North End Halifax location to can in smaller formats and automatically carbonate the cider to desired levels.

“We had planned to purchase these pieces of equipment next year, but we saw the opportunity to move on these projects faster than anticipated if we received the grant,” says Lim.

With increased automation, Chain Yard’s small production team will focus on other tasks while the product is being carbonated. The smaller format of cider cans will further enable the design of a 6-pack, which can potentially be available at NSLC and private liquor stores this summer.

“We are very thankful to CUA for their support and for the community, and we look forward to putting this equipment to use to help us grow as a company and to grow the N.S. cider industry,” says Lim.

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CONTRIBUTED: Refugee women making Greenii paper bags

Likewise, the grant will help Greenii Inc. purchase a rotary paper-sheeter machine to help improve production and ramp up its capacity. The machine will cut big rolls of clean-waste paper into small sheets to make paper bags. The plan also includes buying a crinkle paper shredding machine.

“Winning was a fantabulous experience because we were looking for funds to buy a machine to support our product,” says Purushothaman Cannane, Founder of Greenii Inc. “It's perfect timing; and there are no words to explain this experience. Thanks to CUA!”

The community-based organization is a social enterprise solving the single-use plastic problem by reducing landfill and carbon-emissions. It also gives employment opportunities for immigrating and newcomer refugee women.

“We plan on employing more immigrant women, minorities and people with disabilities,” says Cannane. “We are also planning to work with paper waste resources like paper mills, recycling centres, libraries, schools and universities.”

Using the soon to be acquired machine can speed up the production process and scale Greenii’s business throughout other Atlantic provinces, Canada and the U.S. in the next few years.

“We can save more trees by quickly converting the wastepaper rolls into sheets and eventually convert into paper bags, bin liners, wine bags and crinkle paper shreds,” says Cannane.

“A million thanks to CUA for such a timely support of our business. Our company is very grateful to them and our community, and we would like to congratulate other winners and applicants.”

Planning for the 2022 Community Investment Grant Program has begun, and CUA will be releasing details later this year. “We encourage Chamber members, small businesses, and community organizations to consider how a micro-investment could be a catalyst for greater impact,” says Mullally.

“Seeing recipients continued growth and expansion is what will validate the program’s lasting impact.” ■

< Back to Articles | Topics: Special Feature

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