March 01, 2019
Not many politicians hold a seat for 17 consecutive terms, but that’s just one of Chief Terry Paul’s achievements. Paul is the elected band leader of the Membertou First Nation, which includes 1,695 band members living on- and off-reserve near Sydney, N.S. And he is also CEO of the Membertou Development Corp. (MDC), the band’s diverse and ever-growing business arm, which runs 12 businesses in service (including insurance, geomatics, a data centre and a $5-million bowling and entertainment centre that opened in November), real estate, fisheries and land acquisition (the entity owns more than 480 hectares of land). “That’s not even all of them,” Paul laughs after rhyming off the list. “There’s a number cooking, too.”
Modern Membertou is a world away from where it was when the company started in 1989. The community was poor, unemployment was high, morale was low and the band was running a $1-million annual operating deficit.
By 1995, the community had eliminated its deficit by tightening budgets and opening gaming operations, and the band council wanted to grow the community’s wealth. That meant bigger thinking. “We were boxed in on the reserve,” says Paul. “Mainstream banks wouldn’t give the same terms to our corporation as they would to one outside a reserve. We applied common sense and found ways to work around those rules.”
Read the rest of this profile of Membertou Development Corp. at CanadianBusiness.com
Click on the links below to read the other profiles I wrote in this issue: