City incentive program proves success in helping small business to expand

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Windsor Star/Dave Battagello


Grants offered since 2011 under a community improvement program by the City of Windsor to help smaller companies build and expand operations has been working well, one city councillor said on Sunday.

“The way to validate that is the uptick generated by the 19 previous applications we approved and hundreds of jobs that have been generated to date,” said Coun. Bill Marra, chairman of the city’s planning, heritage and economic development committee.

The committee at its meeting on Monday will debate merits of the latest applicant — Ellwood Specialty Metals — a small steel supply company off Central Avenue in the 3200 block of St. Etienne Boulevard with its head office in Pennsylvania.

City administration in a seven-page report going to the committee has recommended approval.

The company, much like others previously approved, is relatively small with 23 full-time and six part-time workers, according to the report. It is a supplier of multiple grades of steel and aluminum used for industrial and manufacturing purposes such as tool and die, plastic injection moulding or die casting.

The primary financial benefit offered by the city under the incentive program is to waive any tax increase for up to 10 years associated with additions constructed under expansion by a local business or manufacturer. Other benefits can include waiving of building fees under an expansion.

“It gives them a better climate to expand, which has been very popular these days,” Marra said. “We waive fees or there is no tax increase for them for 10 years if they expand further.

“It’s a significant rebate for them. Then, in the 11th year, we gain the benefit of seeing new taxes for the city as well.”

Construction is planned at Ellwood Specialty Metals on a $1.7-million, 15,300-square-foot addition which would add five to eight employees.

If approved, the city grant — a tax break for the new expansion — under the community improvement plan would cost $224,540 over 10 years, according to the administration report.

Should the company be accepted as a grant recipient by the committee, it will next be sent to city council for final approval within three to four weeks.

City council recently asked for administration to prepare a full summary report on exactly the number of increased jobs and other economic benefits that have been created by incentives under the small business community improvement program to date, Marra said.

Application under the program is limited to 10 different sectors — among them are manufacturing, research and development, creative industries, logistics, health and life sciences and tourism.

“One suggestion I will make when the full summary comes back, is that we revisit the sectors allowed,” Marra said.

“There might be other areas now of our economy that may be warranted and could benefit from applying for the incentives so they can expand further.”