When the forestry sector collapsed, Peter Higgelke was worried about the future of his company KBM Forestry Consultants.
After starting a forestry-focused program in 2004, the Thunder Bay-based company was forced to develop a new vision to expand their services Canada-wide.
That involved the redesign of one of their aircraft into an aerial photography plane and they were able to do so with a $529,000 grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
"That was a very involved engineering project both from the aircraft design perspective as well as mounting and having the electronics to service all the hardware and software that was going into the plane," said Higgelke.
KBM was one of four local companies that received NOHFC grants Friday afternoon at the Airlane Hotel.
Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle announced a total of $1.1 million that would help create 19 jobs in the city.
Two new jobs were created at KBM through the grant; Higgelke said they now have four pilots and five full-time employees processing data from the aerial photography equipment at the shop in Thunder Bay.
The financial assistance from the government was critical at a time when the company was rebounding, he added.
The other companies that received grants were:
- Sencia Canada Ltd, $500,000 for software that will allow clients to access training reports on mobile devices; six jobs created
- XLV Diagnostics, $100,000 for a prototype of a low-cost digital mammography unit, eight jobs created
- Olivier Strategies, $25,000 to launch a marketing and public relations business, three jobs created
"This is probably about the best example of the diversity of the private sector in Thunder Bay," Gravelle said.
The minister added the NOFHC has contributed $145 million to various projects over the last 10 years, creating or retaining employment for more than 22,000 people.