Auto parts injection molder Lakeside Plastics Ltd. will receive a C$1.1 million (US$891,000) Canadian government grant to develop new molding processes in a program that could result in 60 new jobs for the Windsor, Ontario, company.
The grant is aimed at lightweighting and environmentally friendly materials for vehicles, according to the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The grant is one of several announced Jan. 17 by the ministry at a news conference at Lakeside's headquarters.
Rudy Pupulin, Lakeside vice president of engineering and program management, told Plastics News in a phone interview that work on the grant-assisted project could take 2½ to 3 years before results would be used in a vehicle. He declined to provide more details.
A local press report said hiring will begin in about six months. Another report indicated 175 now work at Lakeside's three Windsor-area facilities but another 100 members of Unifor Local 195 are currently laid off. Plastics News data estimates as many as 400 have been employed at Lakeside at one time in the past.
Lakeside Vice President of Human Resources Greg Merner said in a phone interview that the company doesn't provide precise employment figures. The company laid off workers over the Christmas holidays because a major customer, General Motors Co., had a shutdown during that period. But 41 workers have been called back since then to match employment levels to the resumed activity at GM.
“We're now ramping up employment levels,” Merner told Plastics News. “That's a better situation to be in.”
The 60 new jobs to be created will include engineering positions and injection molding openings related to programs covered by the grant.
The federal funding is the second government grant awarded to Lakeside in less than two years. In May 2016 the company was awarded C$1.28 million (US$1.04 million) by the province of Ontario to expand and upgrade. The funding was designed to create 55 new jobs and protect about 300 positions. That grant was funded from the Ontario government's Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.
Lakeside's most recent grant is funded from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund, which has C$1.26 billion (US$1.02 billion) to support high-quality jobs in a variety of sectors. Some C$41 million (US$33.2 million) worth of grants for 11 companies were announced Jan. 17. All of them were aimed at a range of auto-related projects, including lightweight battery development, window lightweighting, high-strength steel and composites.
The latest grants announcement is “about supporting the autoworkers, and it's really about good quality middle-class jobs,” stated Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, at the Lakeside event.
Canadian automotive suppliers account for more than C$34 billion (US$27.5 billion) in sales annually in the country's automotive sector, according to a ministry estimate.
Plastics News data estimates Lakeside's sales last year were about US$75 million.