Monday, May 25, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead Friday, May 22, 2009

Tricorp looks to power up its investments, the Chamber gathers in Prince Rupert and the potential of RTI Privatization is back in the news.

TRICORP IS LOOKING AT IPPs FOR INVESTMENT-- With past some of the key regulations for investment now change, Tricorp, the First Nations investment firm from the Northwest is changing its investment direction. The investment group is moving away from just the funding of local business opportunities for First Nations residents to a more diversified portfolio. One which will dip a toe in the current hot topic of Independent Power Production.

The Friday edition of the Daily News outlines the new direction for Tricorp as they prepare to invest their cash resources into IPP projects across the province (see story below)

Other items of the Friday paper had a familiar Podunk blog ring to them.

A page one review of the Chamber of Commerce gathering (catching up to events one day after the event got under way) outlining the guest list and events planned for the three day gathering of Thursday to Saturday night. Of course sharp eyed Podunkian readers read up on the details on the blog on Wednesday.

Likewise, the Daily caught up to the latest ruminations from Chairman Dan Veniez of Ridley Terminals, who has been outlining his concerns over recent events out of Ottawa, which are slowing down his quest to take RTI to privatization. It was an item we highlighted on the blog on Thursday.

The Sports page previewed the beginning of the auto racing season on the North coast, as the Northwest Drag racing season was set to begin in Terrace over the weekend.

Family and friends of the PRSS grad class of 2009 would be snapping up all those free papers from those fancy black boxes around town this weekend, as the Daily News provided the always popular Grad class photo tribute in Friday's paper spanning pages 16 to 18.

Total pages in Friday's paper 20

Front page headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, May 22, 2009
Pages one and five

The Tribal Resource Investment Corporation has been looking for the right investment opportunity over the last eight months.

It appears that the Prince Rupert First Nations investment firm has found it in independent power production (IPP) projects.

Tricorp has entered into an agreement to fund around IPPs around the province, hoping that its portfolio will bloom during what seems to be a stormy spring for most investment firms around the world.

It's a change of pace the company has been looking to make for some time as it gears up to becoming even more relevant as not only an Aboriginal investment firm, but a provincially competitive firm. .

"TRICORP has historically been very reactive to what is happening in the economy, so whatever is happening in the economy is normally reflective of what TRICORP's portfolio would look like," said TRICORP chief operating officer Peter Lantin.

In the past that meant investment, especially in the northwest, was fishing and forestry. But those industries are not what they used to be. For TRICORP, that means for the organization to move forward it needed air- or energy - to breathe.

. As one of 24 Aboriginal capital corporations around the country, Tricorp has mainly focused on supplying small -business with development lending because of certain legal restrictions holding back other investments.

The Indian Act made it difficult for banks to lend capital to Aboriginal entrepreneurs living on First Nations reserves, which is where an organization such as Tricorp filled in.

A funding agreement signed by Tricorp with the federal government in the late 1980s meant their investments had to be focused on first -time First Nations entrepreneurs. But that agreement ended on March 31, 2007, opening a door for new types of investment.

With new possibilities come new responsibilities. Reactive investments and management is out for Tricorp - and investments in what could be are in.

"We are now looking at being proactive and longer-term, looking at a more diversified portfolio for Tricorp in the long run," said

"Through this unique approach, we are maximizing the benefits, of our investment in Aboriginal economic development by leveraging capital from the private sector and other partners."

One partner that has stepped up to the investment plate is ECOTRUST, a Cascadian environmental investment concern. The company, with directors from California to Kitimaat Village, has an economic opportunity, social equity and environmental well-being focus to its investments.

The company has a history of working on the North Coast, working with the Haisla First Nation to protect the 8OO,OOO-acre Kitlope River rain forests watershed in British Columbia, perhaps the largest watershed of its type remaining in the world.

"We have two goals in launching

the First Nation Regeneration Fund," said Ian Gill, president of Ecotrust Canada. "By investing in run-of-river hydro-electric projects, we want to generate green energy to help meet B.C.'s carbon reduction targets and we want to regenerate Aboriginal economies which are suffering from high unemployment and stagnation."

Given the current dialogue about IPPs in the province, especially run of-river projects, the fact that ECOTRUST's mandate and council advisors are as well-versed on "mutual" economic and environmental concerns was a key reason Tricorp signed on to the fund.

But under the BC government's current call for green power, there is no limit to how many IPPs can apply for power production permits, leaving First Nations communities feeling pressure to have an answer to the many projects being proposed in B.C.

"In every community we have visited in the last year, IPPs are normally on the table. A developer has either approached these communities or some sites have been identified," said Lantin.

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