A manufacturer based in the region of Chatham-Kent has undergone substantial growth in recent years, increasing their revenues, employees, manufacturing abilities, and position as a manufacturing leader.
The company’s expansion has largely been enabled by receiving Canadian government funding for their strategic projects. By being able to accomplish more strategic projects in less time, the business has grown at an exponential rate, offering greater value to customers while creating sustained advantages over their competition.
Included in their successful requests for government funding, the company was able to leverage CME SMART Advanced Technologies for Global Growth, the FedDev Ontario Training and Productivity Initiative, the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) and the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), to name a few.
Chris Casemore, Director of Client Management and Development at Mentor Works, recently discussed the funding process with a manager from the company. This article reviews how the relationship between this manufacturer and Mentor Works led to enhanced success.
Where did you learn about government funding grants and loans?
As a impactful participant in the Chatham-Kent business community, the manufacturer first learned of Canadian government funding from local events. The company discovered small business grants through industry conferences and then received updates about funding opportunities from their local economic development office (EDO).
Then, an economic development event hosted by Chatham-Kent provided an introduction to Mentor Works.
Although the manufacturer was unable to attend the event, they were drawn towards the idea of receiving funding for their strategic projects. The company asked to meet with a Mentor Works Government Funding Planner shortly after.
“[The] first meeting was impressive. First we received an overview of all of the programs, then we were able to filter down to a smaller, [more actionable] list to begin pursuing.”
Based on their initial meeting, the manufacturer began working with Mentor Works to secure funding through the CME SMART program. Based on how simplified the application process became, they quickly decided to begin their second funding application for another project.
What were the impacts of this funding for your business?
The Chatham-Kent manufacturer identified two main impacts of receiving Canadian government funding for their projects. These include:
Ability to Afford/Improve the Scope of Projects
Prior to getting started with government funding programs, the manufacturer relied on internally-generated cash flow and other traditional forms of financing to fund new projects. Although this allowed the company to grow, they were constantly making trade-offs between the project’s scope and the project’s budget.
Successfully receiving government business grants helped the manufacturer to avoid these trade-offs and maximize the project’s scope/budget. Receiving Canadian government grants and loans shifted their financing model and helped the company extend their cash flow. Doing this helped the company to achieve greater project results, boosting revenues in the process.
Motivation to Complete Projects
Receiving government funding also helps to unify teams and instills a “get it done” mentality. While strategic initiatives may have profound benefits to an organization, it takes a team effort to actually accomplish it. Receiving thousands – or even millions – of dollars from the government can often spark a team to accomplish a project when otherwise it may be difficult to rally support.
“When we knew we had a project and we knew we had funding, we said hey, let’s do it!”
What role did Mentor Works play in the funding process?
After discussing their business’ funding opportunities with Mentor Works, the client was matched to Jennifer Bleakney, Program Manager at Mentor Works, to begin the application writing process.
“Jenn[ifer] asked questions, made herself available to chat, went through different iterations of the project.”
Upon gaining a clear picture of the manufacturing project, Jennifer used existing project materials and financial information to systematically build their government funding application. Her knowledge of government funding programs resulted in a high-quality application that conveyed the most important project details. With these specific points included, the application was quickly approved by the government and the company could start their project without delay.
Will your organization pursue future small business funding opportunities?
Given the manufacturer’s positive experiences with Canadian government funding, they are very likely to apply for additional funding future. In particular, the company was so pleased with their experiences with the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) that they are beginning to plan another IRAP-eligible project.
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