A one-of-a-kind meat processing plant nearing completion in North Bay should be open for business near the end of the year or early January.
On Monday the federal and provincial governments announced $2.4 million in funds for the nearly $8 million facility.
The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation is giving the operation a $1.4 million grant while $1 million is coming from FedNor in the form of a repayable loan.
Oleksandr Zahrebelnyi is the President of Canada Meat Group.
He says the processing plant will bring its product to North Bay from the Toronto area for processing and some local and area beef will also supply the facility.
Once fully operational, the plant will employ about 45 people and produce 450 metric tons monthly of processed beef.
Zahrebelnyi says the end product will be shipped to the Middle East, Asia, South Korea and Europe with the goal of expanding to other centres in the future.
Zahrebelnyi will start with 25 to 27 workers during the first year of operation and then take that number to about 45 by the third year.
From Ukraine, Zahrebelnyi has been working on the meat processing plant idea for some time and after looking at different sites settled on North Bay.
His wife and three children have now moved with him to the city.
When he was considering North Bay a big question was could he find skilled workers?
That won’t be an issue because Zahrebelnyi has been working with Canadore College on a meat processing program and the students will be able to get hands-on learning right at the plant once it opens.
Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota made the FedNor announcement of $1 million and says the plant will be 15,000 square feet in size.
It will be federally-licensed with a cold storage facility at the North Bay Airport Industrial Business Park.
Rota says the plant will have state-of-the-art equipment including a blast freezer which reduces the freezing time of a product.
He adds this will also help increase the product shelf life.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli made the $1.4 million announcement on behalf of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
Fedeli gives full credit for landing Zahrebelnyi and Canada Meat Group to the economic development team at North Bay City Hall.
“They are aggressively looking for international companies to locate here and that’s not easy to do,” he said.
Both, Fedeli and Rota agreed the three levels of government working together made the meat plant a reality.
As the new Economic Development Minister, Fedeli will be able to give Canada Meat Group a helping hand in increasing awareness about its product.
Fedeli will be in the Middle East and Asia before the end of the year, two parts of the world Zahrebelnyi has targeted for shipment and Fedeli says he will be taking the company’s product catalogue with him to the Consular General offices in both regions to see what can be done to get the end product out there.
Zahrebelnyi commends the effort by all to make the plant a reality including the Business Development Bank of Canada, Caisse Populaire and RBC, the financial institutions he dealt with.