Island projects funded to improve supply chain

A handful of Vancouver Island projects are among 24 from around B.C. to be awarded funding from the province’s Supply Chain Resiliency Grant Program.

The $6-million fund was created to help projects that strengthen manufacturing supply chains and make the province more secure in the face of global supply interruptions. The projects received between $85,300 and $400,000 apiece.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of our manufacturing sector for the critical made-in-B.C. goods it delivers and jobs it provides in every region of the province,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. “This investment and partnership with business associations and communities strengthens our province’s supply chains, helps protect our industry sectors from external interruptions and helps B.C. manufacturers become even more globally competitive.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities and put a sharp focus on B.C.’s reliance on imports of manufactured goods, packaging supplies and finished products.

The government hopes investment in the province’s supply chain will improve manufacturers’ productivity and protect jobs people and communities rely on.

Included in the mix are Island projects such as Atli Resources, the forestry arm of the ‘Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay, which has partnered with the Kwakiutl First Nation, FPInnovations, Paper Excellence, the Regional District of Mount Waddington and LinksEdge Ltd. on a project to improve harvest residuals on northern Vancouver Island, develop a fibre-supply chain model and a build a business case.

Victoria’s Rainhouse Manufacturing has teamed up with Canadian Electric Vehicles of Parksville and the University of Victoria to design and certify battery packs for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

And the Cowichan Green Community Society and Cowichan Valley Co-operative Marketplace are working to improve the society’s service delivery to better support environmental sustainability and resiliency in local food production and processing.

The B.C. Tech Association will use the investment to help manufacturing businesses understand emerging market opportunities in new sectors, map existing industrial capabilities and address how those could be retooled with advanced technology.

“The adoption of new technologies is vital for the continued growth of B.C.’s manufacturing sector,” said Jill Tipping, chief executive of the B.C. Tech Association. “With the support of our partners at the City of Surrey, City of Richmond and Township of Langley, our project will help to prepare manufacturers of all sizes to succeed in the years ahead.”

The B.C. Food and Beverage Association will use the funding to analyze the impact of supply-chain disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, identify best practices in addressing and adapting to supply-chain disruptions and develop a supply-chain guide that identifies barriers and solutions for the food and beverage sector.

“The pandemic exposed just how susceptible British Columbia is to unexpected interruptions to local and global supply chains,” said James Donaldson, chief executive of the association. “This funding allows B.C. Food and Beverage to learn from the pandemic’s impact on our industry and help mitigate the effects of future disruptions.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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