Economy New $40-million provincial program aims to help advanced manufacturers

Economy New $40-million provincial program aims to help advanced manufacturers

Economy

Economy Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing Ltd. workers Jeremy Mateciuk, left, and Tony Copetrone are shown Sept. 26, 2018, mounting a mold cavity onto a Hermle 5-axis CNC high-speed machining centre.
Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing Ltd. workers Jeremy Mateciuk, left, and Tony Copetrone are shown Sept. 26, 2018, mounting a mold cavity onto a Hermle 5-axis CNC high-speed machining centre. Photo by Nick Brancaccio /Windsor Star

The Ontario government announced the creation of the $40-million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competitiveness program Monday aimed at helping small- and medium-sized manufacturers equip themselves to compete in the post-COVID-19 economy.

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The program opened for applications Monday with a deadline for applying of Feb. 10. The fund, which is part of the Regional Development Program, will offer a mix of grants and loans.

Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli emphasized the program is very focused on supporting projects introducing the most advanced technologies and the creation of jobs.

“This program is very specific to advanced manufacturers and is the first one we’ve offered to all of Ontario,” Fedeli said.

“It’s very targeted on equipment, advanced manufacturing technologies and supporting the skilled workforce.

“It’s going to be about restoring essential supply chains.”

Fedeli said the government has seen how quickly Ontario’s advanced manufacturers adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted 12 months ago, the province was buying 100 per cent of its personal protective equipment outside the country, but now 74 per cent of PPE is domestically sourced with the vast majority of it coming from Ontario.

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“These businesses have the ingenuity to do this (manufacture new products) in Ontario,” Fedeli said. “We want to help them to become leaders in their sectors.

“It’s a perfect fit for the Windsor area. Automobility is one of those sectors.”

In addition to automotive, the other sectors the program is aimed at are aerospace, chemicals, information technology and communications technology, life sciences and steel.

To qualify for funding the business must have at least 10 employees, provide three years of operational/financial statements, commit to creating a minimum of five jobs and invest at least $500,000 in a project in Ontario.

Interest-free loans are available up to $5 million with up to 30 per cent of the loan potentially being forgiven.

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Grants of up to $500,000 are available for companies in rural communities. Some strategic projects can also qualify for grants up to $1.5 million.

“Given the substantial number of industrial automation companies in Windsor Essex, offering technologies for an exceptionally wide range of manufacturers, our tech businesses should benefit from the AMIC program,” said Automate Canada chair Shelley Fellows.

“It will support investment in exactly the kind of technologies we are well known for, giving our automation companies the kind of sales boost they need to continue growing, hiring and investing in research and development.

“It’s a win-win-win for Windsor Essex.”

Fellows added the program also supports one of the strategic pillars – adopting technology – for building the Windsor region’s future economy.

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Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters senior vice president Matthew Wilson applauded the provincial government’s investment in a sector he called the cornerstone of Ontario’s economy. He added the province’s 40,000 manufacturing firms directly employ 750,000 Ontarians.

“CME believes the sector has a massive opportunity for growth, for innovation for driving prosperity for all Ontarians, especially coming out of COVID as governments, businesses and consumers are looking for more locally produced goods,” Wilson said.

“The key to increasing local production is to drive local investment.

“We know from experience that this investment by the province will lead to substantially more investment by the private sector in new processes, new products and people.”

Dwaddell@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/winstarwaddell

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