April 1. 2022
From Stabilization to Growth: RRRF and the Entrepreneurial Mindset (Featuring Simple Life Homes)
As part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) assisted businesses and organizations across Canada to mitigate financial pressures caused by the pandemic.
To help keep more people employed, and to sustain more employers for recovery, the Government of Canada invested over $2 billion through the RRRF. $536.4 million of RRRF funding was delivered by FedDev Ontario alongside local Community Futures Development Corporations like NCFDC (and other partners in southern Ontario). This support is helping southern Ontario businesses and organizations weather the economic impacts of COVID-19, sustaining more employers for recovery and keeping more people employed—protecting more than 25,500 jobs.
Here in Northumberland, NCFDC invested in small and medium-sized enterprises across the County, with RRRF loans totaling $2.02 million invested in 39 SMEs, maintaining a total of 84.5 jobs. NCFDC’s RRRF portfolio was evenly geographically distributed, with particular emphasis on the hard hit Tourism sector (44%) and Main Street (41%). NCFDC also invested in growth firms and advanced manufacturers (18%) while achieving overall diversity and inclusion: 51% of RRRF recipient entrepreneurs were Women, and 13% were BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour).
“Many of our clients really took this time to re-examine their businesses and innovate,” said Kim Botrie, Loan Manager at NCFDC. “The majority of RRRF investments are companies that moved from stabilization mode to active renewal, revitalization and re-investment. They truly set the stage for growth—to make their business better than ever. This is the attitude that impressed and inspired us here at the CFDC. The optimism, confidence and resilience of our local businesses.”
John Hayden from NCFDC sat down with one of the companies backed by RRRF with the support of FedDev Ontario to delve deeper into this entrepreneurial mindset.
Simple Life Homes (SLH) was started by Jeremy Clarke in 2018, a green construction firm specializing in sustainable building. SLH is also now a high-performance pre-fabricated panel manufacturer. The company provides an effective panelized solution that achieves super-insulated and air-tight building envelopes, using carbon-sequestering materials.
Jeremy is a serial entrepreneur, graduate of the Endeavour Centre and Seneca College, a pilot, a Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leader (Corporate Knights, 2021) and a sustainable building industry champion. He has been featured by Passive Buildings Canada (click here to listen to a presentation by Jeremy, in conversation with Erika Mayer in 2019), the Passive House Accelerator, and other leading industry publications.
John @NCFDC: What did the RRRF investment mean for Simple Life Homes (SLH) at this time in your company’s development?
Jeremy @Simple Life Homes: When the pandemic struck, our material pricing went haywire. We didn’t know if we could build the homes we’d already sold and needed a way to stay competitive in the market. The funds allowed SLH to buy some critical materials in bulk and helped us stabilize our supply chain.
John: When you invest in production, what are the broader supply chain and local economic development effects?
Jeremy: We rely heavily on local suppliers for our raw materials. Those relationships allowed us to push through the challenges of the past two years and continue to build homes for the families who depended on us. We aren’t the biggest home builder around by a long shot, but the homes we build use materials from many different suppliers, all of which needed to continue to pay their team regardless of the business that came to them. SLH was able to continue to place material orders with those suppliers and keep our own team and clients in a good place.
John: What lies ahead for SLH?
Jeremy: Growth. It’s an exciting time to be building healthy, sustainable housing. At a time when there is an extreme shortage and a societal shift to elevating the baseline of building, we couldn’t be more optimistic about the opportunities. It’s not easy, but we’re working hard to expand our team and our production capacity with more equipment and space to help combat the climate and housing crisis we’re in.
John: Can you share your experience working with us as part of your ‘extended team’?
Jeremy: Kim and the team at NCFDC are always a pleasure to work with. They have been a critical part of our success from day one and throughout this challenging period. Having a lender like the NCFDC on your side is essential for anyone looking to build or grow their business.
John: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jeremy: The future is bright—housing supply is short, yes, but the interest and the opportunity to build sustainable communities that allow all people the chance to thrive is within reach. The SLH team is full steam ahead to continue to expand our capacity and serve more people in need of sustainable, affordable housing. We’re hiring, looking for motivated individuals to help us with this mission.
John: Thanks for taking the time to share your vision and passion.
For Canadian Women entrepreneurs who own a business (>50%) in or outside of Northumberland, you may also be interested in our new evergreen DELIA Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, providing additional microfinance opportunities to help close the gender access to capital gap and ensure inclusive growth for Canada’s economic recovery and revitalization.
More Success Stories
NCFDC is on its way to achieving the biggest year of lending in the corporation’s history. Despite economic headwinds, NCFDC is there to back viable and competitive local businesses, including attracting new ventures to set up shop in our community. One great example, Fogorig Brewing, is a brand new family-run brewery located in Trent Hills. The venture was named after the historic mill restored and renovated as a production facility and venue.
In a recent newsletter, Cobblestone Farm Retreat Owner/Proprietor Sam Campbell wrote about the variety of events that take place at her beautiful venue located near Cobourg, Ontario, from weekend retreats to master class cooking lessons and even new trends like micro-weddings.
I recently attended an event where I was asked about Northumberland CFDC and their involvement in SOUPS2GO and The Lass & Ladle. The answer is simple: without their involvement neither of these companies would exist.