Manitoba food processor announces $460-million plant expansion
Feb. 15, 2018 - The Manitoba government and J.R. Simplot Company have announced a major investment and expansion in the company’s Manitoba-based operations which is expected to create nearly 100 new jobs.
The $460-million construction project is scheduled to begin this spring and will increase the size of the Portage la Prairie facility from 180,000 to 460,000 square feet. The expansion will more than double the plant’s need for potatoes from regional growers, while increasing its employment by 87 expected new full-time positions. Current operations are expected to continue during construction, with expanded processing capacity expected in fall 2019.
As part of the expansion, Simplot will incorporate energy and water efficiency processes similar to those established at its Caldwell, Idaho, plant.
The provincial government estimates Manitoba growers annually harvest more than 65,000 acres of potatoes — roughly one-fifth of Canada’s total potato crop — making Manitoba the second-largest producer in the country.
“Manitoba delivers in so many ways that will help make this project a success,” said Mark McKellar, food group president, Simplot. “It has access to quality potatoes, a strong grower community, availability of highly skilled employees and distribution routes that continue to expand our footprint.”
The investment package provided by the Manitoba government includes tax increment financing up to $6.31 million to assist with anticipated capital investments and road improvements. Manitoba will also provide up to $522,000 in employee training contributions, based on the number of new positions.
Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro will provide $1 million in PowerSmart program funding for electrical and natural gas efficiency projects, based on the plant meeting program guidelines.
“Simplot has already established itself as a member of the community of Portage la Prairie and now they are doubling their operations and investing in the future of Manitoba. Simplot, like others before them, has taken notice of a renewed focus on improving the business climate and our efforts to create opportunities for growth and investment,” said Premier Brian Pallister.
Founded in 1929, J.R. Simplot Company is headquartered in Boise, Idaho and has operations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and China.
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