BCA group celebrating 20 years of economic development today

The Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — A key player in economic development in Cape Breton will celebrate its 20th anniversary today.

The BCA group, formed in 1989, will be honoured this evening at a banquet at Maple Leaf Restaurant in Sydney, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

BCA, like New Dawn, grew out of the Tompkins Institute at the former University College of Cape Breton.

Included in the BCA group is BCA Investment Co-operative and Cape Breton Innovation Research Centre, both of which grew out of BCA Holdings which was incorporated in 1989.

BCA was formed in response to the closing down of many industries in Cape Breton. All accomplishments of the group were dependent on investments from people in Cape Breton.

Its holdings and investment co-operative has since raised more than $3 million dollars in Cape Breton.

People lend money to BCA Holdings and receive interest at the rate of three or four per cent. They also buy shares in BCA Investment Co-operative and receive a tax credit.

Especially supportive were religious groups such as the Sisters of St. Martha, the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Filles de Jesus, as well as many local priests. These religious groups invested part of their retirement funds to help create jobs in Cape Breton.

Greg MacLeod, founder of the Tompkins Institute, said that it is especially important now to raise money for local investment.

In the last year, with the closure of Magna, Atlantic Castings and Keata Pharma Inc., the region has lost almost 400 jobs and $30 million to $40 million from the local economy, he said.

MacLeod said Nova Scotia is extremely centralized with most of the provincial economic programmes having been centralized in Halifax. The only way to develop, he said, is through the efforts of local people.

Economic development the BCA group has contributed to includes: The Tompkins Centre in Reserve Mines, the Bras d'Or Lakes Inn which was rescued after bankruptcy, East Coast Rope, A & B Mechanical, and Commerce Centre in Sydney Mines.

Other projects include the recent Wentworth Condominium, financed by BCA initially, Laurentian Energy by means of BCA Investment Co-operative — the company's largest single shareholder — and the Northside Fish Plant which has since been sold to Louisbourg Fisheries.

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