Maple Leaf Foods officially announces poultry facility for London
Premier Doug Ford was among several politicians along with representatives from Maple Leaf Foods in London Tuesday morning to announce a new poultry facility for the Forest City.
The federal and provincial governments will - combined - be contributing $54.5 million to the facility. Ottawa will also provide an $8-million loan.
The 640,000 square foot facility is said to cost a total $660-million and will bring 1,450 full- and part-time jobs to the city.
Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain says hundreds more jobs are also expected to follow in the future.
"This facility will have 1,700 very secure jobs for decades to come because of the magnitude of this investment."
The new plant is the largest single-site food sector investment of its kind ever in Canada. Construction is slated to begin in the spring and the plant is expected to open in 2021.
Outside of the city there is also considerable excitement, with the investment expected to bring job security for farmers and rural communities.
Ed Benjamins, chair of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, says, "All those spin-off jobs, all this economic activity [will] take place outside of this one spot."
The London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) announced the plant was coming to London Monday evening, and the news is the culmination of three years of negotiations.
Kapil Lakhotia of the LEDC says, "Every company has a unique set of requirements. Maple Leaf was looking at unique infrastructure. Its 640-thousand square feet so it requires heavy infrastructure, water, wastewater, utilities, and so on."
Maple Leaf says it will also be closing three smaller facilities in St. Marys, Toronto and Brampton that can't be modernized, and which will be merged into the new plant.
Those employees will be offered jobs at the new London facility or other Maple Leaf plants, as well as services to help find new employment.
Mixed emotions at St. Marys-area plant
In Perth South, workers at the Maple Leaf Foods plant slated to close say they don't know what to expect when it all comes to an end in three years.
Skip Pavlick has worked there for 20 years and says, "We do not have first dibs on these jobs, they said that nothing is guaranteed...we would like to carry over our seniority to the new place if we wanted to go there."
More than 500 people work at that plant, and there will be about another 1,100 losses at the Brampton and Toronto plants combined.
With Maple Leaf such a large contributor to the tax base in Perth South, official say it's a loss they may never be able to fully replace.
Perth South Deputy Mayor Jim Aitcheson says, "A small, rural community sometimes we're the forgotten individuals when it comes to big corporate business."