Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Training dollars still available, YLF says


TORONTO, Ont. – The Yves Landry Foundation (YLF) has already earmarked $15 million of the allocated $25 million for Ontario manufacturers to foster training that will lead to innovation.

The Ontario government and the YLF launched the AIME (Achieving Innovation and Manufacturing Excellence) Initiative in October 2008 to support training that will make manufacturers in the province more competitive and innovative. As of mid May, the YLF had received 487 applications, more than 50 percent of which have been approved for funding. With just four months left to apply for the training dollars, there is just under $10 million left to give out.

“We’re more than half way through the program and it’s going fast,” says Karyn Brearley, executive director of the YLF. “Word is getting out across the province. We’re seeing applications coming in from every corner of the province.” Brearley adds that they’re also seeing applications from across all of the various manufacturing sectors.

“In reality, if the momentum continues at the rate that we’ve been getting applications, I suspect that we will have earmarked the funds prior to the publicly identified closing date [of September 30, 2009]. That’s a good thing, I think, because the sooner we get the funds into the hands of the manufacturers, that means that Ontario itself will start to reap the benefits earlier, because obviously the companies are getting down to [the] business of training and investing in their people, and they’ll receive the benefits that much earlier.”

Brearley warns applicants not to spend the money before they’ve gone through the full application process – a two-step process – and receive the final approval. They are working on a 20-day margin for the full approval process.

“At the preliminary, we’re validating that you are who you say you are, and it’s only when you’ve submitted all of your documentation, you’ve gone through an expert panel and you’re given a legal contract to bind you to your commitments that you are then only allowed to run expenses, not anywhere ahead of time,” explains Brearley. “Absolutely no expenses are retroactive.”

A few companies have misunderstood the process and started spending the money before receiving final approvals. And since the YLF can’t authorize funds if the invoices predate the approval date, some companies have been denied funding, including one Manufacturing AUTOMATION reader, who was very disappointed by the outcome and “left to shoulder the burden of the [training] cost alone.”

The concerned reader contacted Manufacturing AUTOMATION to make sure that no other manufacturers suffer the same fate.

To prevent this from happening to other manufacturers, the YLF has refined their “upfrontness,” and made their conditions more clear. On the AIME Initiative page of the YLF website, under application process, it states: “Upon receiving approval from the expert panel, you will be sent a contract that must be signed and returned to YLF. At this point your training may commence.”

For companies that have been denied funding for this reason, the YLF urges them to pause their program and reapply for the funding for the remainder of the project, or to reapply for another project.

Brearley’s message: “We’re open for business. We’re still accepting applications. Don’t wait.”

For more information on the AIME initiative, click here. To watch a video Q&A with Karyn Brearley explaining the program in more detail, click here.