North Bay-based Innovation Initiatives Ontario North (IION) can expand its placement program thanks to a $330,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli made the announcement on Thursday at his North Bay office flanked by Maxim Jean-Louis , the president and CEO of Contact North and Rob Deline, the Executive Director of IION.

Deline says the grant lets IION add a further 15 students a year from the present 45 taking the total number of placements to 60 over three years.

Deline says IION pairs young entrepreneurial students with innovative companies that are looking for solutions in their workplaces.

It means not just any students can apply for a placement under IION.

“You have to match the right innovative company with the right talent,” Deline said.

“So we look for very high-quality individuals to be part of the program.  That’s one of the things that makes (IION) work.  Good companies, good people.”

Deline also says increasing the number of placements allows IION to now include tradespeople among the placements.

“We had a lot of tradespeople who wanted to come into the program, but we couldn’t accommodate them because of the time frame, however now we can,” Deline said.

In the four years that IION has been around, Deline says a “fairly high percentage” of the students are offered permanent positions with the company where their placement took place.

From 2015 to 2018, IION placed 51 students which helped to create and maintain 50 and 37 jobs respectively.

Additionally, the placements resulted in 47 business expansions and the creation of 12 new businesses.

Deline says in some cases, the students were not offered positions because they were returning to school.

IION places students in the Districts of Nipissing, Timiskaming, Parry Sound and Muskoka.