Odessa company receives $57,647 federal grant for 3D design software

Hastings-Lennox and Addington MP Mike Bossio listens to Jeff Willis discuss how a $57,647 grant will improve his manufacturing process. Mike Bossio Facebook video.

Beaver Staff

Odessa’s Willis Manufacturing announced Wednesday it would be doubling its workforce with the help of a $57,647 federal grant to upgrade its 3D design software.

A portion of the funding will also be used for a resource planning system and training and industry certification for its employees.

Hastings-Lennox and Addington Liberal MP Mike Bossio visited the manufacturing facility on Wednesday, which provides machining, welding, fabrication and powder coating services, to make the announcement.

“I truly believe that rural Canada has a lot to offer to our country’s economic development,” said Bossio. “Investments like these create the jobs of tomorrow and prepare our rural communities for the economy of the future. Together, we are investing in people to build their skills and supporting the expansion of advanced manufacturing locally. I’d like to thank the Community Futures Development Corporation of Prince Edward and Lennox and Addington for the continued hard work that they do for our community.”

Jeff Willis, owner of Willis Manufacturing, said the investment would help them to fulfill bigger, more complex contracts they have recently secured, which includes working with Bombardier, the leader manufacturer of planes and trains in the country.

“The company is a sum of all the people working for it. This investment has incentivized innovation and skills development and supported us investing in our people,” said Willis.

A combination of funding support through Community Futures has allowed Willis Manufacturing to expand into a new vertical – finishing and powder coating – and hire Rick Bergin, their new shop foreman, who has 30 years of experience in powder coating.

“Finding and keeping new talent is a priority. We are constantly looking to become more competitive and are adding benefits, and that keeps our turnover really low,” added Willis.

The company recently finished another round of hiring.

“Businesses look for employees who add value, and it’s important to remember that employees look for businesses that do the same thing,” said Sandra Latchford, chair of the area Development Committee of Community Futures of Prince Edward Lennox Addington.

“Management tends to worry about what happens if they invest in training their employees, but they should focus on what happens if they don’t train them and they stay.”

The investment served to leverage an additional $300,993 of private capital to finance the expansion of the advanced manufacturer.

The news comes shortly after it was announced that FedDev Ontario is dedicating an initial sum of $100 million to projects that drive innovation and growth in rural communities.

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