Province announces $3.4M+ in local business development funds

Northern Development minister made several funding announcements during a visit to Greater Sudbury on April 15

Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford announced more than $3.4 million in business development funding during a visit to Sudbury on April 15. 

The funds flow from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), which Rickford chairs.

The PC minister spent the day touring six expanding local businesses with other members of the NOHFC board of directors.

Rickford also used the occasion to announce that the NOHFC is holding its first board of directors meeting in a First Nations community on April 16, as the board will be meeting at Atikameksheng Anishnawbek near Naughton, west of Sudbury. 

Rickford said the NOHFC fund has provided money for the following business expansion projects:

  • $1 million for Walden Welding and Mechanical Inc. – a custom welding and millwright mechanical services company – to build a new facility and purchase equipment;
  • $897,728 for Equipment North Inc. – a supplier, manufacturer and servicer of heavy industrial equipment – to construct an additional workshop and purchase equipment;
  • $781,368 for Morin Industrial Coatings Ltd. – an industrial surface treatments services company – to construct an additional workshop and purchase equipment;
  • $376,991 for Fuller Industrial Corp. – a designer, supplier and servicer of engineered piping systems – to purchase equipment
  • $303,356 for Skyline Helicopter Technologies – an aircraft repair and services company – to renovate its existing hangar and build an extension onto it, construct a new helipad and purchase avionics equipment;
  • $132,874 for Memory Gardens Pet Crematorium Inc. – a pet cremation services provider – to build a new facility and purchase equipment.

Rickford said in each case, NOHFC provided up to 50-per-cent funding with each expanding business required to invest in the business as well.

“They demonstrate how our investments of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund — but otherwise known as the taxpayers of Ontario — can make a real difference when we see a great opportunity for our families, for our businesses and for our communities,” said Rickford.

He said a key thrust of NOHFC funding is to leverage more investment dollars to create new jobs.

“So for example, one of the places we toured today had an announcement of a million dollars. They’re actually spending five. So it’s a total of a $6-million project. And, you know, at the end of the day, they’re going to create 30 new jobs. And they’re skilled jobs. These are Red Seal welders and metal fabricators. And we think that’s a good investment for the business, good investment for the workforce and good investment for the community of Nickel Belt,” he said.

Greg Rickford, who aside from being Ontario’s Northern Development Minister, is also chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). Rickford introduced NOHFC board members in Sudbury Monday evening. Len Gillis / Sudbury.com

NOHFC has changed in recent years, Rickford said, to focus more attention on smaller and rural communities. He said this is part of NOHFC’s commitment to developing and retaining a strong workforce in the North.

Rickford said this has two streams with one being focused on Indigenous workforce development. 

Rickford said this was “to ensure that we could create opportunities for young First Nations and get them involved in, and point them in the right direction, to opportunities in the North, understanding the barriers but focusing on the opportunities.”

He said the second stream was also workforce development aimed at “boosting internship opportunities with a focus on addressing labour shortages, particularly in the skilled trades.”

Rickford is also in the unique position of having been a former federal MP (Kenora) and minister responsible for FedNor, the federal economic development agency, along with now heading up NOHFC. 

In an interview after his speech, Rickford said both agencies complement each other. 

“One of the things that we take great pride in at the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund stemming from my days as the minister at FedNor, is making sure that in almost every instance, they’re stackable,” Rickford said. “Stackable means that we’re working lockstep with FedNor.

“We’d always like to see a little bit more investment from the federal government into FedNor, but to the extent that the programs align, we want to make sure that at every possible turn, businesses and communities can go to FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.”

Len Gillis covers the mining industry as well as health care for Sudbury.com.

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