Bell Helicopter Relocates 505 Assembly to Quebec, Canada

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced plans to optimize manufacturing capabilities across several of its manufacturing facilities.

Bell 505

Bell 505 (photo –

As part of this optimization program, the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X final assembly in Lafayette, LA will relocate to the company’s Mirabel Assembly and Delivery Center in Quebec, Canada.

The Lafayette facility will instead receive the Bell 525 Relentless cabin subassembly that will be relocated from Amarillo, TX, and the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) modification work relocating from the Bell Helicopter facility in Ozark, AL.

Bell Helicopter President and CEO Mitch Snyder said in a statement that “Mirabel is a vital part of Bell Helicopter’s long term growth strategy and this move confirms our commitment to our Mirabel workforce and infrastructure.”

Snyder also made it a point to note that they remain committed to Louisiana, where he said they have received tremendous support from the state and local government.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in the release that “We are very pleased the work for the Bell 525 and the MQ-8C Fire Scout is moving to the Lafayette facility.”

In a release issued by the Canadian government, Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said that Bell Helicopter Textron Canada is a source of pride and is a key player in Quebec’s world-class aerospace cluster. “By bringing new highly skilled jobs to Quebec, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada is working to ensure the aerospace industry’s position as one of the most innovative and export-driven in Canada,” said Minister Bains.

Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, a subsidiary of Textron Inc., has been operating in Quebec since 1983. This latest relocation project is expected to create more than 100 highly skilled jobs in Quebec, while securing the 900 or so existing jobs at the Mirabel facilities. To secure the relocation, the governments of Quebec and Canada will adjust certain conditions of their current loans with Bell Helicopter Textron Canada.

In return, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada will relocate assembly of the Bell 505 to Quebec, and also commits to relocating the manufacture of certain components of its Bell 429, Bell 505 and Bell 525 models to Mirabel. These components are currently being manufactured by sub-contractors. Furthermore, the company has also committed to carrying out flight testing, certification and final assembly of its next commercial model in Mirabel.

Windsor-Essex Economic Development Projects Awarded $7.8M From Southwestern Ontario Development Fund

The WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) announced that Ontario is investing a total of CAD$7.8 million to support seven automotive suppliers undertaking growth projects in the Windsor-Essex region.

Southwest Ontario Development Fund

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These seven projects, expected to create 270 jobs and retain more than 1,180 positions, will receive support through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

This Fund provides funding for businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for Southwestern Ontario economic development projects that create jobs, attract private sector investment, and encourage innovation, collaboration and cluster development.

Since October 2012, over CAD$95 million has been committed by Ontario through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, in the process leveraging private-sector investment of more than CAD$1.1 billion. These investments are helping to create over 4,000 new jobs and retain more than 20,000 existing jobs in the region.

Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, said in a statement that “The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund gives reputable companies the chance to adopt new technologies that will help them grow their business and stay competitive.”

The seven projects that have been awarded funding are as follows:

Astrex Inc. – Astrex, which produces high-strength alloys for the automotive sector, is getting $1.8 million for a $28.4 million investment project that involves a new facility, equipment, and training, resulting in the creation of 62 new jobs over four years.

The Electromac Group – The company is expanding its facility and installing three hot stamping production lines. Ontario is investing $1.5 million to support this $15.4 million project that will create 30 new jobs and retain 191 positions over five years.

Essex Weld Solutions – Ontario is investing $450,000 to support a $4.5 million expansion by Essex Weld Solutions that will create 20 jobs and retain 110 positions over three years.

Integrity Tool and Mold – Ontario is investing more than $1.1 million to support this company’s $16.6 million expansion that will create 52 new jobs and retain 317 positions over three years.

JD Norman Canada – Ontario is investing more than $480,000 to support JD Norman Canada’s $4.8 million investment in new equipment that will create 14 jobs and retain 85 over five years.

Lakeside Plastics – Ontario is likewise investing $1.28 million to help Lakeside Plastics purchase new machinery and equipment. This $12.8 million project will create 55 jobs and retain 305 positions over almost four years.

Ventra Group – Ventra’s $31.9 million facilities upgrade is being supported by $1.5 million from Ontario, and will create 37 jobs and retain 179 positions over four years.

Deb Matthews, MPP for London North Center, said in a statement that “We are pleased to help support these forward-thinking companies’ investment projects, which will bring high-skilled jobs to the region and grow our reputation for excellence in automotive manufacturing.”

Rakesh Naidu, Interim CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, added that “We are very pleased that Minister Matthews is here to announce that several of our local companies are receiving grants to support growth and expansion in the Windsor-Essex region.”

Formet Industries Gets $1M From Southwestern Ontario Economic Development Fund

An expansion by automotive supplier Formet Industries in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada will receive $1 million in support from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

Southwest Ontario Development Fund

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The Ontario economic development funding supports an overall project investment exceeding $23 million that is expected to create 66 new jobs and help retain over 1,300 positions.

Formet Industries is developing automotive structural components that provide added strength and safety, while also reducing vehicle weight. Formet will supply the components to an automaker with operations in Ontario.

Mark Johnson, General Manager, Formet Industries, said in a statement that “The investment we’re announcing today at our St. Thomas facility is part of our company’s ongoing focus on using the latest materials, technologies and engineering innovation to offer body and chassis components that we believe set industry standards for structural integrity and lightweight performance.”

Formet is a manufacturing division of Cosma International, which in turn is part of Magna International Inc., the world’s second-largest auto supplier by sales. Formet Industries, guided by Magna’s business model and principles, has a long history in St. Thomas, Ontario that dates back to 1997.

Magna International’s global headquarters is likewise located in Aurora, Ontario. The company has over 125,000 employees spread across 285 manufacturing operations and 83 product development, engineering and sales centers in 29 countries.

The $1 million investment in Formet by the Province of Ontario is being provided through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, modeled on the proven Eastern Ontario Development Fund. Together, these two Ontario economic development tools have helped to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs in the province and have attracted more than $1.8 billion in investment.

It also helps build the $16 billion automotive industry in Ontario, which is the only sub-national jurisdiction in Canada which is home to the top five major global automotive companies – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, as well as truck manufacturer Hino. Furthermore, Ontario’s vehicle assembly plants are supported by an advanced supply chain that comprises over 700 part suppliers and more than 500 tool, die and mold makers.

The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund is now accepting applications from qualified businesses in the advanced manufacturing, food processing, life sciences, information and communications technology, tourism and cultural industries.

Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, noted in a statement that Ontario’s innovative and broad-based supply chain is a key strength as the province competes globally for new auto assembly investment. “This project with Formet targets the skills we’re working with the industry to develop – using the advanced production processes and lightweight materials required for the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles,” added Minister Duguid.

FedDev Ontario Economic Development Funding Helps gShift Labs Expand and Create Jobs in Canada

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced an investment by FedDev Ontario in gShift Labs, a technology company that has web analytics software to help businesses create, publish, track and report on digital content.

gShift Labs

gShift Labs (photo –

Supported by $440,000 in FedDev Ontario economic development funding, the global provider of web presence analytics will be able to develop its innovative software and bring it to market, hire software developers, and focus on further expanding into global markets.

FedDev Ontario is the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. This latest funding for gShift Labs is being provided through the agency’s Investing in Business Innovation initiative aimed at strengthening the innovation ecosystem in southern Ontario by supporting new entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and angel investors.

This $440,000 adds to the $500,000 the company has previously been awarded under the same program in 2011, and will also be able to leverage up to $1.2 million in private financing from existing investors including GrowthWorks Capital, Brightspark Ventures and the company’s co-founders. As a result of this expansion, gShift expects to create 21 new jobs and maintain 19 jobs.

Barrie, Ontario-based gShift Labs Inc. was founded in 2009 by Krista LaRiviere and Chris Adams. The company’s Web Presence Analytics platform now monitors, reports on and provides insights and intelligence for over 10,000 brands in 22 countries.

Minister Bains, who is also the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, said in a statement that companies like gShift are rethinking how we use technology to manage and improve our lives and our businesses. “Through support from FedDev Ontario, the Government of Canada is helping to support small- and medium-sized businesses increase sales, expand into global markets, and fulfill their potential,” added Minister Bains.

Krista LaRiviere, Co-founder and CEO, gShift Labs Inc., said that “With this financial support from FedDev Ontario, gShift is able to continue to engineer its world-class digital marketing platform and further execute on its go-to marketing strategy.”

LaRiviere added that their Barrie-based team will expand to include developers, sales and marketing specialists and customer service representatives to meet customer demand around the globe.

Earlier this month, gShift announced that it has been selected to join the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) program in New York City. The CTA NYC Digital Tech Program was started in 2012 by the Canadian Consulate General as a way to provide Canadian digital technology media companies with resources to fast-track growth.

Selected companies receive the use of office space in NYC, as well as mentoring sessions, pitch training, and business contacts, to further accelerate their growth and development. gShift was selected into this program for demonstrating high potential and relevance in the NYC market.

Ontario Announces $100M Investment From Green Investment Fund to Create Jobs and Reduce GHG Emissions

The Province of Ontario, Canada has kicked off its new Climate Change Strategy by announcing a $100 million investment from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to grow clean energy jobs and help homeowners reduce their energy bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Ontario GHG emission reduction targets

Ontario GHG emission reduction targets (photo –

The Ontario Climate Change Strategy calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

In partnership with Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas, the Province’s new $100 million investment will contribute towards the GHG emissions reduction goal by helping about 37,000 homeowners conduct audits to identify energy-saving opportunities and then complete retrofits.

Ontario’s $325 million Green Investment Fund is a down payment on the province’s cap and trade program to strengthen the economy, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The province had previously announced a $20 million investment late last year through the Green Investment Fund for installing new public charging stations for electric vehicles.

The new $100 million investment through this program is expected to save an equivalent of 1.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The impact on Ontario economic development will also be significant. According to the Conference Board of Canada, each $100 million invested in Ontario in climate-related technologies is estimated to generate a gain of $107 million in gross domestic product, and 1,400 new jobs.

Glenn Beaumont, President, Enbridge Gas Distribution, said in a release that “Our core business is to deliver natural gas, but on the path to a greener future, delivering more conservation is part of the solution.”

Steve Baker, President of Union Gas, likewise added that for almost two decades, Union Gas has been a proven leader in delivering energy-efficiency programs such as home renovation rebates. “Overall, that represents reduced emissions that are the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off Ontario’s roads for a year,” said Baker.

Historically, every dollar invested in natural gas efficiency has resulted in $1.50 to $4 in savings for natural gas consumers. A homeowner in Toronto whose home was built prior to 1990 could see annual bill savings on average of about $400, by investing in new high-efficiency heating systems, attic insulation and air sealing.

Deputy Premier of Ontario Deb Matthews said in a statement that “The action we are taking today will help secure a healthier environment, a more competitive economy and a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

Glen R. Murray, Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change, added that “This investment will help homeowners upgrade their homes and save money, while keeping Ontario on the path toward a low carbon future.”

Stewart Elgie‎ Professor of Law and Economics, University of Ottawa, Chair, Sustainable Prosperity, noted that “Investing in home energy retrofits is a triple win.  It reduces home energy use (and bills), cuts greenhouse gases, and puts people to work doing the upgrades.  That is a smart investment in building a cleaner, stronger Ontario economy.”

Alberta Launches $500M Incentives Program to Compete With Gulf Coast for Petrochemicals Investments

The Province of Alberta, Canada has launched a new incentives program to attract large-scale billion dollar petrochemical facilities.

Alberta petrochemicals diversification program

Alberta petrochemicals diversification program (photo –

This new Alberta economic development program, called the Petrochemicals Diversification Program, will provide up to $500 million in incentives through royalty credits to companies considering the province for locating petrochemicals facility investments.

The expected benefits are just as large – between $3 billion and $5 billion worth of investment attracted to Alberta through several facilities, each of which will be valued in excess of $1 billion, which would yield significant benefits to the province and Albertans.

Together, these projects are expected to create up to 3,000 new jobs during construction of the new petrochemical facilities, and more than 1,000 permanent jobs once operation begins.

Deron Bilous, Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade, said in a release that this new commitment to diversification in the petrochemical sector is part of the government’s economic action plan – a plan to create jobs, diversify the economy and add more value to the province’s resources.

“This innovative program builds on the strengths of our energy industry and will attract new investment to our province,” added Minister Bilous.

Through this program, the Government of Alberta will award royalty credits to select petrochemical facilities through a competitive application process. While petrochemical facilities do not directly benefit from royalty credits, the credits awarded can be traded or sold to an oil or natural gas producer, who can use these credits to reduce their royalty payments to government. Credits will only be awarded once approved projects are completed and feedstock consumption begins.

Alberta intends to compete with Louisiana, Texas and other Gulf Coast states that attract similar large petrochemicals facility investments by offering incentives to companies that are considering new projects in their jurisdictions.

By providing similar incentives on such a large scale, the Petrochemicals Diversification Program will encourage investment in new processing facilities by helping to offset Alberta’s high construction and transportation costs. It will help make Alberta’s petrochemical industry more competitive with the Gulf Coast and other petrochemical centers around the world

Warren Fraleigh, Executive Director of the Building Trades of Alberta, noted that the government’s decision to promote investment in the petrochemical industry is the right decision at the right time, not only for Alberta’s petrochemical industry, but also for skilled labor in the province. “This program will create jobs for workers, but will also diversify our economy—which the province needs now,” added Fraleigh.

Manitoba Unveils Climate Action Plan to Create 6000 Green Jobs

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger has unveiled a comprehensive plan to fight climate change and protect the environment, while creating thousands of green jobs and building a sustainable economy.

Manitoba Climate Change Action Plan

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The new plan will work to drive innovation in the transportation and agriculture sectors, assess local climate-change risks and develop solutions, expand work to combat climate change through new community partnerships and advance innovative energy projects in local communities in order to continue to grow the green economy and create green jobs.

Highlights from the plan:

Energy-efficiency investments: Manitoba will take immediate action to create a new demand side management agency, establish energy savings targets, and work to lower utility bills. A full 98 per cent of the energy produced in the province is already renewable. Manitoba’s successful record on renewable energy means the province is poised to export additional power to neighboring jurisdictions that will allow them to lower their carbon footprint.

The right to a clean environment: The province will introduce a proposed comprehensive environmental bill of rights that would enshrine the commitment that every Manitoban has the right to clean air, water, land and a stable climate.

Green Jobs: Manitoba will join Ontario and Quebec in introducing a cap-and-trade system for large emitters. The province will work with Indigenous partners, and with the geothermal industry and community organizations to responsibly introduce more geothermal and biomass installations, creating green jobs and powering the green economy.

Manitoba economic development programs, incentives, partnerships and resiliency: Manitoba will move to make government operations carbon neutral. The province will continue investments in crucial infrastructure from flood mitigation to adaptable transportation in remote communities.

New partnerships have also been forged with the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities, community organizations, National Farmers Union, universities and colleges and others to help fight climate change and implement the actions in the plan.

Premier Selinger, who is leading a delegation to Paris as part of the 21st Conference of the Party (COP21), said in a release that “Through the actions outlined in Manitoba’s plan and with the co-operation of the new Canadian federal government and all Manitobans, the province will cut greenhouse gases by one-third by 2030, enhance economic opportunities and create at least 6,000 new green jobs by 2020.”

“It is our collective obligation to fight climate change to ensure a healthy environment and robust economy,” added Premier Selinger. “We must do what we can to mitigate current risks while looking at ways to adapt to climate change.”

See the full Manitoba Climate Change and Green Economy Action Plan – Download (pdf)

Communitech, University of Waterloo Expand Entrepreneur Programs With Google Support

Communitech and the University of Waterloo Velocity program will be taking up space being vacated by Google in the Lang Tannery building in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.


Communitech (photo –

The expansion is part of a partnership with Google and the Government of Ontario to provide more support to local entrepreneurs in Canada’s top tech community.

Communitech is one of two Canadian hubs in the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network. “The added space will allow us to help accelerate the growth of high-potential companies, while making more room for startups and our corporate innovation partners,” said Communitech CEO Iain Klugman in a release announcing the expanded partnership.

Klugman added that it gives them the foundation on which to help build 15 new $100 million companies in the Toronto-Waterloo Region corridor over the next 10 years.

Communitech will now have a total of 80,000 square feet of space in the building. Furthermore, the University of Waterloo will be able to double the space allocated for its Velocity startup incubator, with a total of 36,000 square feet – room for up to 120 startups to work.

Velocity’s space will include a wet lab for startups conducting science research, a dedicated workshop for assembling hardware prototypes, and expanded facilities for startup mentorship.

University of Waterloo President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur said in the release that the expanded facilities will allow their Velocity program’s software, hardware, and life-sciences startups, currently housed in separate buildings, to grow as a community under one roof, and share insights through peer mentorship.

The Lang Tannery building is a reclaimed factory that has now become a vibrant tech hub for the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Google is moving from its space in the Tannery building to its new offices at the nearby Breithaupt Block.

Steven Woods, Google’s Senior Director of Engineering in Canada, said in the release that “We’re really excited to extend our support for high caliber tech companies in the Toronto -Waterloo Region corridor through the Google for Entrepreneurs program.”

Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, added that “Communitech, Google and the University of Waterloo are strong, innovative partners who play an integral role in the growth of the Waterloo Region tech sector.”

Communitech and Google have also entered into a new three-year agreement to strengthen the Google for Entrepreneurs program, and provide more resources to Communitech’s Women in Technology initiatives.

John Lyman, Head of Partnerships and Marketing for Google for Entrepreneurs, noted that “We have had a tremendous partnership over the past two years, and look forward to working with Communitech to strengthen its programs and connections with Silicon Valley even more in the future.”

Alberta Unveils Climate Leadership Plan With Cap on Oil Sands Emissions

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has unveiled a Climate Leadership Plan that accelerates the province’s transition from coal to renewable electricity sources, while putting in place emissions limits for the oil sands.

Alberta Climate Leadership Plan

Alberta Climate Leadership Plan (photo –

The carbon pricing scheme is likely to have an impact on Alberta economic development in many different ways.

The energy sector in general and the oil sands in particular are key drivers of the booming economy. On the other hand, the collected revenue is likely to help fund plans for sustainable growth and the transition to renewable electricity sources, in addition to helping those affected by these changes.

Alberta will phase in this pricing in two steps, starting with a $20 per metric ton economy-wide pricing in January 2017, and followed by a $30 per metric ton pricing in January 2018. The overall limit for oil sands emissions has been set at 100 megatonnes.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from carbon pricing will be reinvested in Alberta. A portion of collected revenues will be invested directly into measures to reduce pollution, including clean energy research and technology, green infrastructure such as public transit, and programs to help Albertans reduce their energy use.

Other revenues will be invested in an adjustment fund that will help individuals and families make ends meet, provide transition support to small businesses, First Nations, and people working in affected coal facilities.

The Climate Leadership Plan is based on the recommendations of the Climate Change Advisory Panel led by Dr. Andrew Leach, which heard from thousands of individual Albertans and stakeholder groups this fall.

One of the primary goals of the Plan will be to phase out all pollution created by burning coal and transition to more renewable energy and natural gas generation by 2030. Two-thirds of coal-generated electricity will be replaced by renewable energy, primarily in the form of wind power.

All told, renewable energy sources will comprise up to 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity production by 2030. Alberta will also implement a methane reduction strategy to reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2025, as compared to a baseline level of 2014.

“We are going to do our part to address one of the world’s greatest problems,” said Premier Rachel Notley, in a release announcing the Climate Leadership Plan. “We are going to put capital to work, investing in new technologies, better efficiency, and job-creating investments in green infrastructure.”

Vancouver City Council to Consider Plans For 100 Percent Renewable Energy

The agenda for an upcoming meeting of the Vancouver City Council early next month includes two significant green strategies that commit the city to achieving a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050.

Vancouver Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

Vancouver Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (photo –

The two plans under consideration are the Renewable City Strategy, and a mid-point update for the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

The Renewable City Strategy lays out how Vancouver can shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 or sooner. Currently, 31 percent of the energy consumed in Vancouver is renewable.

The Greenest City Action Plan was first approved in 2011 by Vancouver as a strategy for staying on the leading edge of urban sustainability. The updated version of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP) is comprised of 10 smaller plans, each with a long-term (year 2050) goal and medium-term (year 2020) targets.

The 10 GCAP goals are Green Economy, Climate Leadership, Green Buildings, Green Transportation, Zero Waste, Access to Nature, Lighter Footprint, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Local Food.

Together, these 10 plans address three overarching areas of focus – carbon, waste, and ecosystems. Green Economy is one of the critical goals of the plan that is directly connected to the other nine goals, particularly Green Buildings, Zero Waste, and Local Food, all of which are areas where many new green jobs are expected to be created.

Targets for the Green Economy goal include doubling of the number of green jobs by 2020 to 33,400 jobs, compared to the 2010 baseline of 16,700 jobs. Another target for this goal is a doubling of the number of companies that are actively engaged in greening their operations.

The highest priority Green Economy actions in the plan include establishing a Green Enterprise Zone; developing programs to support each of the five green job clusters that the City has identified as priorities; and delivering a business engagement program that can help Vancouver businesses make measurable improvements to their environmental performance.

Vancouver economic development; community economic development; greening existing workplaces; and capacity building, education, and training are listed as key strategies that will help Vancouver achieve its green economy goals under GCAP.

To this end, economic development by the City and the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) will focus efforts on five industry clusters that have the most potential for growth over the next decade. The identified clusters include clean technology; green buildings; materials management and recycling; local food; and sustainability services and education, along with other emerging sectors.

As for community economic development, the City is working with partners to help create job opportunities and reduce barriers to employment. This is being done through projects that deliver training and supportive employment programs such as EMBERS Green Restoration, urban farming, and a building deconstruction program.

See the full Renewable City Strategy and the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan update which the Vancouver City Council will be taking up for consideration.

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