Pancap Pharma Inc. is proposing $6.6 million of renovations to a seven-acre property at 2679 Howard Ave., in Windsor, Ont., on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Michelle Maluske / CTV Windsor)

The federal government is investing $6.3 million in Windsor-Essex businesses to spur growth in the manufacturing sector and create 80 jobs.

Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Melanie Joly announced the funding Monday for four advanced manufacturers to expand capabilities and meet rising market demand.

“The manufacturing sector is at the centre of many well-paying jobs in communities across Canada,” said Joly. “Today’s announcement is proof of our Government’s commitment to support our manufacturers through this challenging time. We know that by investing in these four manufacturers, they are creating good quality jobs for people in the Windsor-Essex region and supporting the local economy.”

The COVID-19 crisis has had unprecedented repercussions on this key sector of Ontario’s industry and federal officials say the government is well-aware of the economic impacts of the health and economic crisis on the businesses of Windsor-Essex and is committed to supporting them.

The FedDev Ontario investment will go to four manufacturers in Windsor-Essex: Pancap Pharma Inc., Crop Defenders Ltd., Hawk Plastics Ltd., and Whitfield Group.

“We applaud FedDev Ontario for its support of our pharmaceutical expansion in Canada, and specifically Windsor. Although the medications manufactured by Pancap Pharma are prescribed across Canada and other parts of the world, we choose Windsor-Essex for our expansion due to its cluster of pharma, nutritional and food sectors, and its strong manufacturing base,” said John Mikhail, president of Pancap Pharma Inc.

These investments from the government are also leveraging more than $22.4 million in additional investments in Windsor-Essex, and the companies supported Monday will increase regional supply chain spending.

The government provided details of the funding and jobs:

Pancap Pharma Inc. (Pancap) produces Pancreatic Enzyme Products (PEP), a treatment for pancreatic insufficiencies attributed to cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis and other pancreatic diseases. With a $3.5-million repayable contribution from FedDev Ontario, Pancap established its new 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Windsor incorporating state-of-the-art equipment and new technologies that will reduce manufacturing times by 50 per cent from 12 weeks to six weeks and allow Pancap to triple its annual production of PEP products. Through this expansion project, 50 new skilled jobs will be created in Windsor.

Crop Defenders Ltd. produces biological pest control solutions to help growers defend against aphids, a common pest that often plagues greenhouse vegetables. An $899,000 repayable contribution from FedDev Ontario will allow Crop Defenders to expand its facility, acquire new equipment and scale up operations to mass-produce JERVI (its unique aphid control solution) for sale to greenhouse producers. Through this investment, the company’s first-in-Canada sustainable solution will benefit horticultural and greenhouse growers in Canada and create 10 new full-time jobs in Maidstone.

Hawk Plastics Ltd. manufactures innovative injection molded custom plastic parts primary for the automotive sector. With FedDev Ontario’s $880,372 repayable contribution, Hawk Plastics will expand its production facility by 8,000 square feet to accommodate its new advanced and robotic production equipment. In addition to increasing productivity and quality, advanced technical capabilities will allow the company to produce lighter-weight plastic components to meet growing demands from Tier 1 and 2 automotive suppliers. The project is anticipated to create 10 new manufacturing positions and maintain 20 in Tecumseh.

Whitfield Group is a trusted source for repairs, engineering changes, hard facing and laser heat treatment of plastic injection, die cast, and stamping tools for the automotive sector. With FedDev Ontario’s $1-million repayable contribution, Whitfield Group will acquire new leading-edge production equipment, including the most advanced wire and laser welding and cladding systems available, to advance its additive manufacturing capabilities. The scale-up will allow the company to create new intellectual property and customize its systems to fit process requirements, which will support efforts to diversify to new sectors. The project is expected to create 10 new manufacturing positions and maintain nine jobs in Oldcastle.