07/11/2012 01:20 EDT | Updated 09/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Ontario plugs $2M into Elliot Lake businesses

The governing Liberals say they'll spend $2 million to help Elliot Lake businesses recover after a deadly mall collapse.

They say the two-year fund will help businesses affected by the collapse to reopen in temporary locations and put mall employees back to work. The government said the fund will also support economic development projects that will help those businesses find permanent homes.

The collapse of a section of the mall's roof, which resulted in the deaths of two women, dealt a massive blow to the city's economy.

A significant portion of the city's retail shops, as well as the library, one of two grocery stores, one of two hotels and other offices were destroyed in the disaster.

Business owners can start applying for funding immediately, said Rick Bartolucci, the province's Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

"So what they will do is they will work through the terms and the parameters around the program,” Bartolucci said. “The city will be able to explain to the individual businesses the format and then they can go ahead and apply."

Bartolucci added the money will be used to help businesses re-locate, and get people back to work as quickly as possible.

The fund will not compensate businesses for the loss of revenue or wages business revenues or employment income, the province said. Financial institutions, government and service agency offices are also ineligible to receive money from the fund, which will come from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp.

About 32 mall tenants and 300 workers were displaced by the partial roof collapse at the mall, which represented 60 per cent of all available retail space in the city.

The province said it will provide another $50,000 to support mid- to long-term programs that will create jobs, grow the business community and strengthen the economy. It will set up a temporary office where staff will work with provincial ministries, the municipality and local businesses.