LEAMINGTON, Ont.—The federal government is hoping to help mitigate the impact of the June 2014 closure of the H.J. Heinz Co. of Canada Ltd. plant in Leamington, Ont., with a $200,000 investment aimed at attracting and retaining businesses in the area.
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), through its new Investing in Regional Diversification initiative, is providing the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp. (WEEDC) with the funding as the not-for-profit agency looks to support existing food processors and attract new investment in the Windsor-Essex area.
“This project means creating opportunities for the hard-working people and businesses in this community so they can grow and prosper,” Chathem-Kent-Essex MP Dave Van Kesteren said in a statement announcing the funding.
“It is a clear example of how our government is here to support those affected by the closing of the Heinz plant, and the region’s food processing sector.”
The federal agency claims the investment will help maintain an estimated 750 full-time jobs in the local food precessing sector by helping companies that dealt closely with the Heinz plant diversify their customer base and product offerings.
When operating under the Heinz banner, the plant in Leamington employed about 740 people.
Under Highbury Canco Corp. management the plant employs about 250 people.
FedDev Ontario’s contribution is the first under the Investing in Regional Diversification initiative, which is aimed at attracting businesses, investments and jobs to southern Ontario’s communities, and matches a $200,000 contribution made by Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.
“This investment is a great example of how our Government stands behind the people and communities in this region that were hit hard by the economic downturn. I’m pleased this investment-a direct response to the closing of the local Heinz plant-will help the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation in diversifying its economy, creating opportunities and maintaining jobs.
“Thanks to the FedDev Ontario funding we were able to get a number of key initiatives underway to mitigate the potential negative economic impact of the Heinz closure,” said Sandra Pupatello, chief executive with WEEDC. “With this additional funding we will continue to be in high gear within the food processing sector to continue with business retention, expansion and attraction activities in the Windsor-Essex region.”