It is ironic that Prairie Innovation Enterprise Region (PIER), an entity whose aim was to facilitate growth and expansion in the region, is no longer open for business.
With the anticipated growth in the next 10 to 20 years in Humboldt and the area, it seems as if an entity such as PIER would be a worthwhile appendage for growing communities. However, with the announcement of the 2012 provincial budget came the news that funding would be cut to all Enterprise Regions in the province as of March 31, 2012.
“Our doors are closed, but we still have a lot of wrap-up to do,” said PIER chair Joanne Forer. “There are still a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross, and that sort of thing. And that brings us to this special meeting that we’re calling of the members, and of the board’s recommendation that we have a dissolution of the corporation.”
After hearing the news about the cuts, and after some deliberation, the board decided to cease operations. Now PIER is winding down, and one of its last tasks was to hold an annual meeting and a vote to dissolve the corporation.
It all made for a feeling of solemnity at that meeting, held in Humboldt on June 27. Forer and acting manager Barrie Broad addressed the quorum of members who attended the corporation’s final meeting.
“On behalf of the board I appreciate your support and your dedication to the organization through the years,” Forer said. “I think we have done some very good things. “
In her annual report, Forer gave a recap of PIER’s achievements in the past year and included an update on the projects that had been undertaken by PIER staff.
“We continued our work through the Business Potential Expansion Survey and a lot of work was conducted on that,” Forer said. “We collected data within the region as well as provincially. We also had over 1,100 businesses entered into the Business Capacity Listing database, and all of our region was covered by May 31.”
Forer also spoke about the Regional Housing Report that PIER completed, and the housing forum they hosted in Humboldt in March 2011, which was attended by 75 people.
That report, Forer says, as well as four other studies that PIER was responsible for coordinating can still be consulted on its website, www.pi-er.ca.
Forer also presented the corporation’s financial report, prepared by E.J.C. Dudley and Co. of Wynyard.
As of March 31, 2012, PIER’s statement of financial positions shows the corporation to be in excellent health with assets of $272,555, liabilities of $70,477, and a surplus of $202,078.
“However, these numbers definitely will be lower as far as retained earnings go, because of the deductions for the two months that it took us to reduce our overhead,” said Forer. She explained that many expenses came into play in order to finalize PIER’s affairs, such as rent, salary for the staff, severance pay and vacation pay. Their initial numbers for April, she says, amounted to a $40,000 deficit.
“We believe we will be in about a $50,000 surplus range by the time the organization formally closes its doors, if you pass the resolution for dissolution this evening.”
Then Forer announced that the City of Humboldt is to be the benefactor of any surplus balance that remains once all the administrative loose ends are tied up.
“According to the articles of incorporation that were put in place by the 14 founding board members,” explained Forer, “the surplus from this organization on lying down will go to the City of Humboldt for the use for economic development. That was established four years ago when this organization was started up.”
After motions were carried and the meeting officially adjourned, Humboldt Mayor and board member Malcolm Eaton asked to say a few words about what the city intends to use that money for.
“I just want to reassure people present here tonight that it is our intention that that money would be used for some future regional economic development,” Eaton said. “It’s not simply going into the coffers of the City of Humboldt. As we go forward with some of the regional planning discussions that have been going on, if we come up with…programs or projects or events or activities, then this money could support that.”