Queen's Park gives expanding Woodstock auto parts maker $1.5M boost

·2 min read

WOODSTOCK — The province is doling out $1.5 million to an Oxford County auto steelmaker to support a $17-million expansion that will help meet production demand in the electric vehicle market.

Ontario Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli joined Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman in Woodstock Tuesday to announce the funding for ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks, which he says will “spur innovation” and boost the economy.

“This is an area success story. They’re a global leader,” Fedeli said at the company’s 90,000-square-foot (8,400-square-metre) plant.

“We are going to come out of the pandemic, and we want to make sure our industrial base is strong and that we’re supporting workers, making sure they have a place to work,” he said. “It’s absolutely critical that economic development will lead us out of the pandemic.”

The funding, coupled with the company's $17.4-million investment, will create 32 jobs and maintain 53 others, while boosting innovation and production of door rings and tailor-welded outer blanks — sheets of steel used for different auto parts, including frames and inner door panels.

“We’ll be able to supply one million door rings for electric vehicles,” ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Americas president Todd Baker said Tuesday.

Using robotic laser welding, the plant can produce light, strong auto parts that “reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles” and “enhance crash performance,” he added.

The provincial funding will boost an already rapidly growing company, Baker said. The plant, expanding for the third time since it was built in 2016, has seen its workforce has grow to 98 from 45 in the last year.

The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund money will help address production demand in the battery electric vehicle market.

“This is a great example of how technology can improve a system,” Hardeman said. “(The) fund was created for this purpose. The idea was to make sure we have support for manufacturing at the major centres, to be the best we can all over the province.”

cleon@postmedia.com

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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