NORTH BAY -- Officials are calling it a restructuring as the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) is launching four new programs designed to make financial support more accessible.

“This is going to simplify funding applications, it’s going to support rural projects, target existing and emerging industry sectors,” said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

“It’s gong to boost economic development and investment in the north.”

The announcement was made on Thursday morning with over 600 people on the call, including Premier Doug Ford who was in attendance for the first few minutes.

One of the new aspects is a Community Enhancement Program which is designed to help with upgrades and repairs to vital community assets like community centres and sports facilities.

Peter Chirico with the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce says this new program will be utilized in the area.

“When we look at some of the municipalities that are struggling with funding for repairs, maintenance on buildings and we know, we certainly know, that there are some dire circumstances right across the north,” he said.

“So this is going to help those communities and be able to expand their services.”

The other three new programs include the Cultural Supports Program aimed at the film and television series, the Invest North Program for business development and expansion, and lastly, the People and Talent Program which hopes to provide more opportunities for indigenous people to gain job experience.

“We’ve been hit hard,” said Chirico.

“We have a large tourism sector, hospitality sector in the north that has been extremely hard hit so these programs will help with that recovery. Will help those businesses be able to operate and expand, create jobs.”

He adds that the internship and apprenticeship program to help Indigenous people gain job experience is also widely used in the area.

Although taking on a new structure, Fedeli says the NOHFC has been a big help to businesses and he expects that to continue.

“I can tell you through all of northern Ontario this is one of the life leads for opportunities for businesses. I can think of many of the companies in North Bay for instance where I am that would not exist if it wasn’t for the help, the funding, the start up from the NOHFC,” he said.

Adding that the film and television sector as well as the business supports are going to help create both short-term and long-term jobs in the area.