N.W.T. development corp. looks to rebrand in face of ‘reputational challenges’

The NWT legislature building in 2019. A public hearing was held Wednesday in the legislative assembly into proposed changes to the Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) Act. (Laura Busch/CBC)

N.W.T. MLAs are reviewing some proposed changes to the territory’s Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC), including a possible name change. 

Other proposed amendments to the BDIC Act would see the use of gender-neutral language, and updating the roles and responsibilities for the minister responsible. The nine amendments were discussed at the public hearing in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

And MLAs did not hide their opposition for the proposed new name of the BDIC: Prosper NWT.

“I’m a bit skeptical of the name change … I’m not sure it accurately describes what you do,” Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said.

The BDIC was established in 2005 to promote small business development in the Northwest Territories through loans and investment. Since its inception, the corporation has a history of critical reviews, carrying debt and selling off buildings to recoup costs when businesses have failed.

The previous name was considered confusing, Joyce Taylor, chief executive officer with BDIC, said at the meeting noting the acronym, BDIC, came with negative connotations. She said Prosper NWT was suggested after a full engagement and a lot of in-depth analysis, with many potential names reviewed.

She referred to “legacy issues” with some of the BDIC’s past investments, and said a name change could “mitigate some of the reputational challenges we had.”

But other MLAs also voiced their opposition to changing the name.

“I wish we would have just kept the name,” Ronald Bonnetrouge, Deh Cho MLA said.

Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby also voiced her lack of support for the new name, saying it could result in losing the corporation’s history.

“We work on fixing the reputation of the BDIC instead of just calling it something different,” Nokleby said.

BDIC ‘helpful,’ says business owner

Wednesday’s public hearing also heard from a couple of BDIC clients who spoke about the value of the corporation.

Aurora Technical Services owner Siyath Sok said the corporation helped his business with accounting and legal services.

“As a newer business owner that is incredibly important, to point us in the right direction,” Sok said.

Manuel Jorge, owner of Energy Wall and Building Products Ltd., has been a client with BDIC for many years and said he has also found the corporation to “be helpful.”

There were no decisions made at Wednesday’s hearing. The Legislative Assembly is accepting written submissions until May 19, with a report expected later this month or in June.

A report written by Jenna Dulewich

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