New fund targets digital gaming sector

Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud announced a new initiative aimed at growing the province's gaming sector in Moncton Tuesday.

Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud announced the fund in Moncton

Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud announced a new initiative on Tuesday that will help companies employ New Brunswick workers in the province’s digital gaming sector.

Robichaud announced the new Digital Media Development Program program in Moncton on Tuesday.

The new initiative will offer funding to New Brunswick-based companies through a non-repayable, 30 per cent salary rebate of up to $15,000 for each full-time employee per year.

"As part of the provincial government's plan to rebuild a stronger economy, this program is designed to assist New Brunswick companies develop intellectual property by providing a salary rebate for eligible full-time positions," Robichaud said in a statement.

The digital media strategy will only offer funds for employees who are New Brunswick residents.

Robichaud estimates it will cost the province about $1 million per year, but he says that figure could rise if the province attracts more companies.

"I hope I'm going to be a victim of my success and go back to cabinet and ask to my colleagues for more money. This is sincerely my hope and we are going to evaluate next year the amount of money we will need," he told CBC News.

The new initiative is better than what was in place previously, Robichaud said.

"In the past, the former government was very quick and fast to put the money on the table, not doing the proper due diligence and sometimes companies close their shops after six months and the money was also gone," he said.

"In this case, we're going to do a very strong due diligence, we're going to do a very strong evaluation of the project and more than that, we're talking about a payroll rebate."

In 2009, Fatkat Animation closed down in Miramichi even though it received closed to $1 million in government funding.

The New Brunswick government will fund a maximum of $500,000 annually for each corporation.

Robichaud made the announcement at Gogii Games in Moncton.

The company has produced games, such as "Attack of the Groupies" with Shannon Tweed and a new video game based on Archie Comics.