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Eric Cline, Minister of Industry and Resources, announces a new
federal-provincial partnership to help exporters expand their businesses

Sask. Exporters Get
Bridge-Financing Help

By BRUCE JOHNSTONE
Leader-Post (reprint permission)

     "Small- and medium-sized companies needing up to $150,000 to finance the sale of goods or services abroad need look no further than Nextrade, a new export financing program offered by the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP).

     "We're announcing a federal-provincial partnership that will create a $1.7-million micro-credit program to help small and medium-sized exporters with bridge financing,” said Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline at a news conference Thursday.

     The "micro-credit” financing facility was made possible by a $1.725-million contribution from the federal-provincial Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), a four-year, $25-million economic development fund.

     Cline said most of Saskatchewan's exporters are small- to medium-sized companies with little or no access to export financing assistance from Export
Development Canada (EDC) or other financial institutions.

     "Smaller exporters are sometimes forced to access personal credit or, worse yet, walk away from great export opportunities,” said Cline. "It's not good for business, and it's not good for the province.”

     Nextrade will provide $20,000 to $150,000, allowing the exporter to turn export sales into cash immediately and generate cash flow between the time the goods are shipped and payment is received.

     Industry and Resources is contributing $1.2 million to finance the Nextrade loan fund, while WD will provide another $500,000 to operate the program for the next three years.

     David James, director general of Western Economic Diversification, said offering Nextrade through STEP “speaks well to the credibility of STEP,” a government-industry partnership to expand exports of Saskatchewan goods and services.
     Keith Brown, chair of STEP, said the organization is made up of "small- and medium-sized exporters of non-traditional exports, who face many unique challenges in their efforts to market their goods and services in the global marketplace. The greatest challenge is accessibility of micro-credit export finance or, to be more precise, the lack of that support,” said Brown, president of Trailtech, a trailer manufacturer based in Gravelbourg.

     "I believe Nextrade is the key response to this issue.”

     One exporter who thinks Nextrade could help his business is Jim Ireland of ERIN Consulting Ltd., an environmental consulting firm in Regina.

     Ireland said the program makes "your cash flow immediate and provides access to guaranteed payment. It takes out the risk of not being paid. We're going to do our best to take advantage of the program.”

     Nextrade will begin accepting loan applications Nov. 15.