By Rachel Psutka
A local food manufacturer will benefit from an investment announced by Daryl Kramp, Member of Parliament for Prince Edward-Hastings, at Loyalist College on Friday morning.
Meat processing company Vantage Foods will receive up to a $1.5 million investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, an agency set up with the help of Kramp during the economic downturn in 2008. Vantage Foods, originally based in Western Canada, expanded to Belleville last fall, working with Loyalist College to hire and train its 150 new workers.
“I’m so delighted when I see Loyalist participating in so many ways,” said Kramp. “Without an institution such as Loyalist, we don’t have the opportunity to be able to interact and facilitate the creation of more jobs.”
“Vantage foods is thrilled to very recently have started operations here in Belleville with our new service centre,” said Rob Dettlinger, vice president of Canadian Operations East with Vantage Foods. “We have invested well over $20 million in a state of the art facility that offers the latest in food processing technology and innovation. Local skilled trades and contractors were used to complete this project and we are quite happy with the quality of construction and proud of the resulting operation.”
The facility, which started operations in December, has been drawing on training and support from Loyalist throughout the early phases of its operations.
“We already employ close to 150 quality Belleville area residents,” said Dettlinger. “I’m sure that Loyalist College will continue to play a role in our growth and I look forward to expanding our relationship to help take our business to the next level.” Dettlinger estimated that the number of jobs at the operation will double in the next few years.
“This investment is just another example about how governments can, should, and I say, will stand behind our manufacturing sector,” said Kramp.
The funds are available immediately and the company can decide when they wish to draw from them, according to Kramp. The funds will then be repaid over time.
“This is a loan structure,” said Kramp. “But of course, as in every loan, the customer has to be transparent and accountable. Vantage has a history of doing just that. They’re very reputable, high end Canadian company that’s been in business for a number of years so we’re very confident.”
The plan for the $1.5 million includes investing in technology, food slicing equipment, and food safety equipment, according to Dettlinger.