Six London firms receive provincial support
SIX LONDON COMPANIES are getting a combined $2.9 million from the province that will create 283 new jobs and retain another 435 existing positions in the manufacturing, fintech, telecommunications and food processing sectors.
“Supporting regional investments is a key priority for our government to ensure that every part of the province is benefiting from strong economic growth,” said Jeff Leal, Minister Responsible for Small Business. “We are pleased to partner with forward-thinking companies looking to invest in Ontario, and to help spur the innovations that will enable their successes.”
The cash infusion was announced on Tuesday through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund. The following companies will receive funding:
Hanwha L&C Canada, which makes high-end quartz-based building materials for residential and commercial construction, is getting a $1.5-million towards a multi-million dollar expansion and second production line. The addition will be completed by December and is expected to create 85 new jobs.
Automotive manufacturer Lamko Tool & Mold will receive $434,050 for facility modifications and new machinery. The changes will increase production capacity, creating 10 new jobs.
Sciencetech Inc., designer and manufacturer of optical spectroscopic instruments and solar simulators, will get $161,400 to add 13 new positions through an expansion at its Global Drive facility, which is slated to be completed by March 2022.
Smoked deli meats giant Sikorski Sausage Co. will receive $329,724 for new equipment that will allow it to produce two new ready-to-eat products in North America. The company will hire 10 new employees.
Internet service provider Start.ca will receive $324,700 to consolidate operations and increase capacity by moving to a new 80,000-square-foot facility on York Street. It will add 127 new jobs.
Payment processing company Zomaron is getting $239,000 for a new charitable donations platform called Givepoint. The project will create 38 new jobs.
Toronto-based Pizza Nova expands to London
PIZZA NOVA HAS announced two new store openings at 1194 Highbury Avenue, just north of Cheapside Street, and 850 Wellington Road, just south of Southdale Road.
The two franchise units are the first Pizza Nova locations in London. The Toronto-based, family operated business was founded in 1963 and has over 140 locations in Southern Ontario.
Pizza Nova has carved out a niche in the ultra-competitive pizza market by emphasizing its humble, Italian-immigrant family roots and its boast of fresher, higher-quality ingredients. The chain has carved out an enviable position in its market as the quality alternative that’s a little more expensive than most competitors.
Gains expected for city’s ICI real estate markets
ACCORDING TO THE CBRE 2018 Southwestern Ontario Market Outlook report, London is expected to realize $283 million in ICI investment this year, largely in industrial and commercial real estate, up 12.3 per cent from 2017.
Among the positive signs noted by the report:
• Downtown vacancy rates are in decline, and rates for “A” space (new and best-quality commercial) is 15.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, down from 17.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017.
• Overall vacancy rates declined from 19.5 per cent in the final quarter of 2017 to 18 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
• Industrial demand is rising, with manufacturing vacancy rates at 6.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to 8 per cent in 2017.
In addition to those statistics, a number of key market trends are identified as drivers in the report, and include:
• Continuing interest and redevelopment in Old East Village, including the repurposing of the former Kellogg’s factory into The Factory, a 170,000-square-foot recreational facility, will position the area as the city’s next “activity hub”.
• London is starting to see an increase in tech-occupied space as the city has become an incubator for growing technology development and service companies such as Diply, Voices.com, Zomaron, Big Blue Bubble, Big Viking Games and Start.ca.
• The emerging trend of converting older real estate product into new office and medical space is likely to continue in the city.
• Driven by a flight-to-quality momentum, compressing industrial availability rates in London are producing higher net asking lease rates. While demand is strong for high-quality industrial space, there is also a lack of adequate supply for tenants in the market. To meet the robust demand, London’s industrial market could see increased industrial development over the coming years.
Dr. Oetker to boost production, add employees
ON MONDAY OF this week, Dr. Oetker announced it is investing in a new, high-speed frozen pizza manufacturing line that will help create 103 new jobs and retain an existing 115 positions as it increases pizza production at its Nova Court plant.
The company says the new line use high-speed press technology to manufacture both the smaller (one- to two-serving size) and the larger (family-size) pizzas, estimating the plant’s overall production rate will nearly double from 10,000 to 18,000 pizzas per hour.
Dr. Oetker is getting $7 million from an Ontario government job creation fund that will help leverage a $54.5-million investment in the plant by the company. The investment through Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund will help Dr. Oetker invest in a new production line that includes dough preparation, baking, toppings, freezing and packaging equipment.
“Receiving this support from the province will strengthen our capacity to further innovate, and drive exports,” said Cecile Van Zandijcke, executive vice-president of Dr. Oetker Canada Ltd., in a statement. “It will also translate into the ability to continue to serve our Canadian customers and consumers with premium quality products in a sustainable and competitive manner.”
The investment news was expected after Dr. Oetker announced in January it was closing its plant in Grand Falls, N.B., and shifting 70 per cent of its production of frozen pizzas to London and the rest to a plant in New Jersey.
No license fee for short-term home rentals
LONDON’S COMMUNITY AND protective services committee has recommended against imposing license fees on short-term home rentals, like those listed on Airbnb and VRBO, but directed city staff to report back with details on how the city might still be able to add a four per cent hotel tax to Airbnb bills.
Earlier this year, council voted to introduce the four per cent hotel tax in London, which is expected to generate between $2 million and $4 million per year.
The committee decision was in reaction to a report from city staff saying there has been an increase in the number of noise complaints that they believe are related to home rentals. The report says there were 540 active home rental listings in London in 2017, with the average host renting for 73 nights last year, earning and average of $4,200.
City staff recommend business licensing and zoning bylaws to keep tabs on online platforms that help homeowners rent their homes, or rooms within them, for short-term stays.
Across the country, cities and municipalities are looking at options to tighten restrictions or introduce licensing and tax options on short-term rentals through room-sharing sites such as Airbnb. Last month in Vancouver, for example, new short-term rental regulations kicked in requiring homeowners renting their suites through Airbnb to acquire a license to operate.
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