To help the hard-hit fish and seafood processing industry, the federal government is providing nearly $ 1.5 million to four Chatham-Kent companies.
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To help the hard-hit fish and seafood processing industry – shocked, like so many others, by the COVID-19 pandemic – the federal government is providing nearly $ 1.5 million in loans to four Chatham-Kent businesses.
Windsor – Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, speaking on behalf of Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly, said in Wednesday’s announcement that the money would come from the Agency’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
“I am here to recognize an industry that has been a part of Chatham-Kent’s history, culture and economy for a very long time,” said Kusmierczyk. “Chatham-Kent is known for being home to the world’s largest commercial freshwater fishing port and is one of Ontario’s premier fish and seafood processing regions.
Over 80 percent of the province’s commercial fishery takes place in Lake Erie, representing nearly 800 direct and indirect jobs, with an economic impact of more than $ 194 million.
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The new money will be used for fixed operating expenses of businesses, COVID-19 security measures, utilities, insurance and employee salaries.
“We recognize that a common challenge for many employers in this area is to attract and retain a skilled workforce,” said Kusmierczyk.
John Neate, president and CEO of Great Lakes Food Company, one of the loan recipients, said COVID-19 has had a “significant negative impact” on fishermen and processors.
However, he expects the funding to make a difference and help create jobs, despite the recession.
“We operate 24/7, so there’s a lot of back and forth,” Neate said after the announcement. “We have to make sure our employees are safe.
“Second, we received working capital assistance, which allowed us to speed up some of the expansion plans we had.”
Jay Aird, chief financial officer of John O’s Foods, another loan recipient, said the industry is a key driver of the regional economy, with its products ending up on tables around the world.
“We had to change the way we do things. Really rethink the business model, ”he said. “I also want to mention our employees, who worked really hard, really when there was no playbook.”
In a press release, Joly said fish and seafood processing companies are the “heart of many rural and coastal communities” in Canada.
“They create jobs and help grow the economy,” she said. “These four investments will help the sector adapt to respond to current COVID-19 security measures, bounce back from the pandemic, and play a leading role in our economic recovery. We will get through this crisis together. “