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Kenora company receives Indigenous Entrepreneurship Grant

It was a great way to finish up the work week for everyone involved at the Boreal Cork Company on Friday.

KENORA — It was a great way to finish up the work week for everyone involved at the Boreal Cork Company on Friday.

The Kenora-based business was one of 10 recipients of $7,500 from the Hydro One Indigenous Entrepreneurship Grant, which helps Ontario Indigenous business grow their companies and achieve their goals.

“We were thrilled, because it was one of those things where you apply for the grant but you don’t know what to expect or when you would hear about it,” owner and director Kelly Balkwill said.

“Our instant reaction was ‘Oh my goodness, this going to help us out so much.’ We really want to get the word out about our business and about the product we offer this coming spring and we’re really looking forward to having the additional funds to help us expand and reach the communities of Northwestern Ontario.”

The Boreal Cork Company, which Balkwill runs with her husband Kyle, started up in July and specializes in installing Vipeq Thermal CorkShield, which is a renewable alternative to traditional exterior home finishing.

CorkShield was originally used in the southern United States two decades ago and started to make its way north of the border within the last 10 years.

“One of the really big benefits is not only is your home going to look beautiful, but it’s also protecting it from the elements of the outdoors,” Balkwill said. “In the winter, it’s helping keep the cold out and the heat in and it’s doing the opposite in the summer.

“So not only is that helping you with your hydro bills, but it’s helping you have a more comfortable home.

“We really love it because it is a sustainable and renewable product, so you are helping the environment while keeping your finances under control.”

The company is mainly serving the Kenora area at the moment but also services areas around Fort Frances, Vermillion Bay and Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba.

With the grant, Balkwill hopes to put some of the money towards getting the company’s name out across the region through home shows and other avenues.

“We really want to help Northwestern Ontario communities become more sustainable, and more efficient with their renovations, along with putting some money back into their pockets,” Balkwill said.

More information on Boreal Cork Company can be found on their website.