Cape Breton organization launches immigrant loan pilot program

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A Cape Breton nonprofit is launching a new pilot program to help temporary residents start their own businesses.

Coastal Business Opportunities in Sydney offers grants to temporary residents who are in the middle of the immigration process and trying to start a business. They include those who are in Canada on a visitor visa, a student visa or a work visa.

Trisha MacNeil, executive director of Coastal Business, said one of the goals of the program is for temporary residents to live in Cape Breton and maintain their business on the island when they are granted resident status.

“Temporary residents who start businesses during the immigration process take root, and the more firmly rooted they are, the more likely they are to stay in our community,” said MacNeil.

Coastal Business has been able to provide loans to local businesses started by residents, but in the past they could only provide information to temporary residents.

Since they are temporary residents, the loans will work differently than for permanent residents. The difference lies in the repayment of the loan. For temporary residents, reimbursement will be equal to or less than the remaining duration of their temporary status.

MacNeil said temporary residents made it clear to him where they wanted their business to be.

“The ones who came to see me were the ones who had expressed an interest in staying,” MacNeil said.

She said it made sense to have a program like this because if they ask for help, they think about their future beyond the time they have left in their temporary resident status.

“Most of us, when we think about starting a business, think about future plans, not just the next few months or the year or two,” MacNeil said.

Coastal Business Opportunities will fund the program itself with the $ 250,000 it has available to invest each year.

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