Funding from the National Research Council is being put to work to help launch a new industry group in the area and organizers are looking for members in the group—the Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance.
Key prospects are companies involved in local manufacturing, machine shop, engineering and environmental services sectors, said David Moody, project leader of business growth services at the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.
Moody said the need for diversification in markets beyond the traditional petrochemical arena is a core reason for the group's formation.
"Over the course of the last 10 years or so, the market base in the petrochemical area has declined considerably," said Moody. "We're not turning our backs on that area, but looking to expand the client base."
The group hopes to improve local competitiveness of its members, focusing on expanding the potential client base, exporting within and outside of Canada, innovation and working collaboratively on projects.
The SLIA will be co-chaired by Mike Banovsky, who is business development manager at Paton Controls, and Larry MacDonald, who retired about a year ago as chief financial officer of Nova Chemicals.
McDonald said the focus of the SLIA work includes helping companies "expand their customer base from Sarnia Lambton hydrocarbon upgraders to a broader base of energy upgraders which includes hrdrocarbon upgraders outside of our region as well as the needs of emerging green technologies."
He added that companies locally are "extremely well positioned to serve this broader and expanding business segment."
Banovsky echoed MacDonald's sentiments, adding that he was excited about the future prospects that will follow from the SLIA organization. "I am confident that new opportunities and successes will follow many local firms in the near future."
The funding announced will help develop, launch and promote an interactive website for the SLIA, Moody said in a news release.
The release said member companies will also be able to access a portion of the NRC funding to create or enhance their own company websites.
Moody said representatives from about 20 to 25 companies have been in conversation with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnerships regarding the potential for the new alliance, but declined to say specifically which companies.
He added that the group has until March 31, 2011 to use the funding and invited local companies to get in touch regarding membership in the SLIA.
Moody can be reached at (519) 332-1820 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org