Provincial government invests nearly $1.8M in Welland economy

by Laura Barton, The Tribune

Just under $1.8 million in provincial government funding in two businesses with Welland locations is expected to contribute 65 jobs to the local economy.

The announcement was made Friday morning at Hydac Corporation’s Federal Road facility by St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley on behalf of Jeff Leal, Minister Responsible for Small Business.

Hydac Corporation is one of the two businesses receiving funds from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, which invests in businesses to help them grow and in turn positively influence the economy. The fund covers up to 15 per cent of eligible project costs.

“(Hydac), I know, is a valued member of the Niagara Region and business community and Ontario’s broader manufacturing sector,” Bradley said Friday morning.

Hydac will receive $370,600 from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and see approximately 10 new jobs created.

Craig Goodwin, general manager of Hydac Corporation’s Welland facility, said the international company manufactures hydraulic equipment for a number of different sectors, including the automotive and power generation industries.

Up until 2012, Welland’s location only served as a wholesale location for those products while the manufacturing was done in the United States and Germany. Goodwin said in 2010, Welland’s location developed a strategy as it saw a decline in industrial business markets.

“In order to counter that, we decided it was prudent for us to invest in the company and establish a manufacturing arm to our business,” he explained.

To do that, Hydac needed to expand the current facility and hire more people. By 2012, a 13,000 square foot building was added to the site. Since then, another 13,000 square feet has been added to that building.

There, Hydac’s staff are able to design and manufacture on site, which many of its customers interested in coming to North America like because the products will be built to North American standards and regulations.

Goodwin said much of the funding has gone toward the building, but there are a few other investments still to be made in equipment and personnel. He said the amount of money Hydac received from the government fund was approximately 10 per cent of the new addition’s total cost.

The other company receiving funding from Friday’s announcement is British Columbia-based Northern Gold Foods.

Norther Gold Foods, a breakfast and snack product manufacturer, is receiving $1.425 million in Ontario investment, which will go toward its facility on Enterprise Drive. Fifty-five new jobs are expected from this investment.

A representative for the company wasn’t at the announcement, but Steven Renaud, sales for Northern Gold Foods, did say in a media release that having the facility is a major milestone for the company as it is its second.

“Our state-of-the-art production technology, combined with industry-leading allergen controls, will enable us to service our eastern and mid-west customers,” Renaud said in the release.

Bradley said that kind of forward thinking and ingenuity is what the Ontario government takes into consideration when reviewing these fund applications. Through the fund, in conjunction with the Eastern Ontario Development Fund, 4,600 jobs have been created and retained since 2013.

He said for every $1 the government invests, the business itself invests on average $11, which he sees a yielding “great dividends.” In the case of these two companies, Hydac has invested just over $3.335 million and Northern Gold Foods has invested $8.075 million.

Both facilities are expected to be fully operational by 2019.

Twitter: @LBartonTribune