Pitching grants to business is hardball
In the auto parts business shaving a single penny off the cost of production can mean the difference between profits and bankruptcy.
When Guelph’s Linamar Corporation went in search of those savings it found its answer at McMaster University’s engineering department. where Stephen Veldhuis helped the company develop new tooling for its production equipment to make the machines more efficient.
“In a company like that you have millions of dollars invested in machinery, but a $100 tool determines the productivity of the machine,” Velduis said. “There’s not much you can (do) on the machine side, but you can do something with the tooling.”
Veldhuis was among a group of researchers making speed-dating like pitches to an audience of business people and other scientists Thursday at the CanmetMATERIALS lab at the McMaster Innovation Park. The occasion was an event designed to show the range of government funding programs, and university researchers, available to help Canadian industry survive in a tough new world.
Sponsors of the event included the city’s economic development department, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council and McMaster.
Selling business on the benefits of government help isn’t always an easy job, admitted Carolynn Reid, of economic development.
“Government is often seen as difficult so sometimes there’s a reluctance to even ask for help,” she said, adding overcoming that fear may be the key for firms staying in business.
“Everything that government says about growing our economy today is innovate,” she said. “We want to get the message out that we’re here to help.”
On the scientific side, McMaster and Canmet researchers are working on dozens of projects that could aid manufacturers in anything from understanding the mechanical behaviour of steel, to new ways of modelling production processes, to finding the most efficient forms of operating, to finding new ways of forming steel to meet the demand for lighter but stronger metal for fuel efficient auto bodies.
To finance the search for ways to turn that research into new products and processes, the federal government offers a range of programs targeted at small-medium sized companies — usually those with fewer than 500 employees.
The most recent of these programs is Engage, launched in 2010 by NSERC. It provides up to $25,000 for a six month project aimed at moving a new process or tool from the lab bench to the production floor.
Applications under this program can be processed in as little as six week and 87 per cent of applications are approved.
“Look at it this way, that means you have only a one-in-10 chance of not making the grade,” quipped John Jackson of NSERC.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
Top 40 Under 40
Certainly, one of the fastest growing segments of our local economy is that of the young professional cohort and so many great investments are being created/carried out by those 40 and under.
If you’re one of them, or know of someone who should be nominated for this honour, click here:
With needle and thread in downtown Hamilton
The just-opened Needlework is a boutique fabric store and sewing room. Like the hip ones on Queen West in Toronto as well as London and New York, Needlework caters to a growing crowd of people who want to make it themselves.
Textile student Kate Hunter and friend Liz Simpson opened the store at 174 James St. N. after a year of planning, and a few “am I crazy?” doubts and worries, according to Hunter.
Needlework sells fabric and sewing supplies, including needles, thread, scissors, patterns, zippers and buttons. Since Eaton’s closed 13 years ago, stitchers in the King and James area had to trek to Ottawa Street just for a thimble.What makes Needlework unique is the classes they hold — from basic sewing to more skilled projects such as making shirts and pants. The three-hour sessions on evenings and weekends are $45, plus materials.
Hunter and Simpson will teach some of the basic courses and specialists have been recruited to teach quilting, felting, embroidery, even moccasin making.
Needlework is equipped with five Bernina sewing machines, a large work table, and an ironing station. Sewing machines can also be rented for $6 an hour for individual projects.
Opening Needlework is a leap of faith for the two twentysomethings. Hunter is a few months away from graduating Sheridan College’s textile design course. Simpson is self-taught in sewing and textile crafts.
Though it’s a passion for both women, they’re learning about the financial side of running a business. They received a $10,000 grant from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.
“We had to make a business plan, and that really forced us to think through our goals and expectations,” says Hunter. A loan from “the bank of my parents” also helped, Hunter adds.
Equipment and furnishings were bought second hand, and the pair worked long hours painting and decorating the attractive space.
“The response has been amazing, especially on social media,” says Simpson. After mentions on Twitter and Facebook, they had a steady stream of visitors during the February Art Crawl.
“We were getting asked if we hemmed pants too. We sent people next door to Olinda’s for that work,” says Simpson.
A mini textile row might be developing on James North, next to Needlework, Olinda’s Fashion Studio does alterations, designs and dressmaking, and further north, Hansen and Lubbers make drapes and furniture coverings.
Fabric at Needlework is cotton, some of it organic with water-based dyes. The selection is a colourful blend of vintage and modern prints. Both women like the work of American textile design Amy Butler, and carry her whimsical fabrics. The average price is $14 a metre.
Visit iloveneedlework.com for a list of sewing classes and other projects.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
Columbian Chemicals announces major Hamilton expansion
A major expansion is in store for a Hamilton company.
Columbian Chemicals announced Tuesday it has “entered the initial phase of expansion evaluation” of its local plant as demand for its products rises.
In a news release, the company said major global tire manufacturers have announced significant expansion programs in North America driving expected demand growth for the carbon black made in Hamilton beyond current production capacity.
The company did not reveal the value of the expansion or size of the project.
“Birla Carbon is committed to supporting our customers’ growth plans,” said John Loudermilk, Columbian’s President, North America. “The Hamilton Plant’s outstanding history of producing world class products, the proximity to our customer base, and the excellent talent pool in the Ontario region position us well to provide that support.”
Local plant manager Brian Young added: “This is an exciting opportunity for the Hamilton Plant and a testament to our outstanding workforce and the Hamilton Region.”
Columbian Chemicals is a division of Birla Carbon, the world leading carbon black business of the Adyta Birla Group, a $35B global conglomerate.
The company said it will begin the necessary permitting processes along with front end engineering in the first quarter of 2012 to confirm feasibility of new production capacity along with a state of the art energy center.
Phase 1 of the investment is expected to include an estimated 45,000 tonnes of new carbon black production capacity along with an energy centre designed to leverage efficiencies of the plant to supply electricity for both internal and external uses.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator. Photo: Ron Albertson/The Hamilton Spectator
CBScene in the Core
Another exciting advancement for Downtown Hamilton. CBC is starting a new revolutionary digital newsroom in the core and last week announced the new location at 118 James Street North. You can view their new blog here:
We at Hamilton Economic Development would like to welcome CBC News to the neighbourhood and encourage the community to visit the downtown and see why there’s so much excitement in the core right now.
From new condo units, to hotel developments, to creative GTA firms setting up shop here, Downtown is on the way up and whether you’re looking to invest or just enjoy the social side of the core, you can find the information you need at investbak.2genbox.net or through our friends at Tourism Hamilton via their website at www.tourismhamilton.com.
Celebration of Business Announcement on CHML
Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic development and David Adames, President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce joined Bill Kelly on CHML to discuss a big day in Hamilton – March 26, the Celebration of Business.
Click here to listen.
McMaster University receives $30M Donation
A family foundation is donating $30 million to McMaster University to accelerate innovations in health research, education and patient care.
The donation by the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation was announced Monday at McMaster in Hamilton, where the Boris family lives.
Click here to read the full story.
Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – January 2012
In the January 2012 newsletter of Hamilton Highlights…
- Downtown looking up…again!
- Franchisees Wanted
- BNN Features Clean-Tech Company
- Calling All Good News
Hamilton Wins 4 EDCO Awards
On Thursday, February 2nd, the Economic Development Division was honoured with four provincial marketing awards from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) – one of the City’s best showings ever at these prestigious awards.
Hamilton won for best economic development website for the renewed investbak.2genbox.net site (where we partnered with web firm 2Gen.net), best annual report (http://www.investinhamilton.ca//onebillion) (where we partnered with design firm Factor(e) and Banko Media), best stand alone ad (view here) for our new LEED incentive program and best social media campaign for last September’s Sew Hungry Food Truck Rally on Ottawa Street (where we partnered with the Ottawa Street BIA and the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market).
We are so proud of this accomplishment for the City of Hamilton and even more pleased to see that our creative and community partners could share in this wonderful honour from Canada’s largest provincial economic development organization. Congratulations to Tyler Cowie (Factor(e)), Dan Banko (Banko Media), Mark Wu (2Gen.net), Elisha Proietti (Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market) and Patti Hayes (Ottawa Street Business Improvement Area).
City department takes away four economic development awards
Hamilton’s economic development division collected four business development awards at the Economic Developers Council of Ontario annual conference Thursday night.
Click here to read full story.