Pre-Christmas Spending Splurge Just What the Good Doctor Ordered
The spirit of Christmas came early last month to the southern Ontario city of Brantford, where federal minister Filomena Tassi made a high-profile stop to award $12.7 million in government funding to five major local food and packaging companies.
As a minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Tassi’s announcement was a welcome reassurance that the federal government is aware of the sector’s enormous contribution to the economy and employment in one of Canada’s most densely populated regions, while acknowledging the many serious challenges the industry faces as it emerges from its post-pandemic aftershocks.
Fittingly announced at the site of a million-square-foot manufacturing and processing facility operated by renowned candy maker Ferrero Canada Ltd., the new funding—administered through the federal Jobs and Growth Fund and the Business Scale-up and Productivity streams—is aimed at helping the five selected companies to automate their processes to increase production and, ultimately, create over 180 new jobs.”
According to FedDev, which has now invested over $49 million in 16 projects to support the food processing industry in southern Ontario since 2015, the sector is “vital” to the Canadian economy—accounting for 37 per cent of the industry’s revenue in the country and employing over 125,000 people at over 4,000 different establishments.
For an industry of such size and importance, $12.9 million may not seem like all that much money, but for the five companies that will benefit from this late-year largess, it can make a lot of difference going forward.
“Investing in successful industries, like southern Ontario’s food processors and the businesses that support them, will lead to a growing economy that works for everyone, while showcasing and attracting talent to our thriving region,” Tassi declared.
As the biggest single recipient of the new investment capital, Ferrero Canada says it plans to use its $5 million share of the pot to increase production capacity, move to 24/7 automation on its two main production lines, adopt Industry 4.0 networking systems, and create more then 100 skilled jobs in the Brantford area.
“This investment is a tremendous show of confidence that enables us to meet growing consumer demand with made-in-Canada products, while supporting the country’s economic growth,” says Fabrizio Secco, senior vice-president of Ferrero’s Industrial Division.
“We are proud to be a part of Canada’s dynamic and critical food and beverage manufacturing sector, and grateful for the support of the Canadian government in this vital industry.”
Other deserving beneficiaries of the new investment package include:
- Tempo Flexible Packaging Inc., Innisfil-based flexible packaging product manufacturer, which plans to use its $3.5 million share for a 10,000-square-foot facility expansion and adopt new advanced manufacturing technology to boost production of its recyclable food packaging in response to increased demand for sustainable packaging products.
- Sheen Legend Packaging Corp. (operating as Beneco Packaging and SoOPAK), which will use its $2.5 million share to expand production of biodegradable plant-based packaging materials at the company’s new plant in Cobourg, creating an estimated 37 new jobs there.
- Summer Fresh Salads Inc., manufacturer of salads, hummus and dips for major retailers and food-service companies, which plans to spend $1 million on new capital equipment and to expand its Woodbridge manufacturing facility to 80,000 square feet.
- Casa Bonita Foods Inc., manufacturer of Mexican-style soft corn tortillas and chips, awarded $720,000 for purchasing new equipment to automate and scale up its production and packaging lines to support additional product development.
For a year that started out with so much uncertainty and fear about runaway inflation and a looming recession, let’s hope that ending it on a high upbeat note will be harbinger of better times to come soon.
Happy New Year!