The City of North Bay has cut a deal that’s landed a meat processing company at Jack Garland Airport’s industrial business park.
In late February, city council approved the sale of three acres of non-airside land for $123,000 to a group of investors from Ukraine to establish a startup company, known only as Canada Meat Group.
Details are scarce on the identity of the group, their background, and the plant’s size and production numbers.
The group, which has no European parent company, is looking to set up is first Canadian presence.
Tight-lipped city officials are leaving it up the company to make further announcements. Invest North Bay chair George Burton said the courting process began two years ago.
The group had apparently been scoping out locations across Canada.
The city’s economic development staff brought the group to North Bay where Burton made the pitch.
“They could have located this anywhere,” said Burton. “They just found North Bay an attractive site during their due diligence.”
The facility will not be an abattoir. It will receive fully-dressed meat for further processing.
Plans are to source Canadian beef, which has a world reputation for being high quality.
“That’s part of the draw to come to Canada,” said Burton, who couldn’t say from where they will be sourcing beef.
“I hope they start growing some beef north of us on the agricultural belt we have north of us in the New Liskeard area. That would be a natural. But I’m sure that’s not going to be able to supply their entire demand.”
Job creation numbers out of the gate are projected to be between 20 and 40. The proposed operation has the potential to be scalable.
To what extent the company will utilize the airport for export opportunities, Burton wasn’t certain.
“That’s a business decision they’ll make.”
Infrastructure-wise, North Bay has an airport with a 10,000-foot runway and a steadily expanding aerospace and industrial business park. Burton said the West Ferris industrial park was also under consideration.
“Their primary concern was to find a suitable site for their plant.”
Burton couldn’t say if the company plans to establish other Canadian facilities.
It’s also uncertain when plant construction would start. Arrangements were made for the company principals to meet with local contractors.
To hear Burton explain it, the investors selected North Bay for holistic reasons.
“They were looking at some sites. They came to North Bay and fell in love with the community, fell in love with our geography, our climate, and they love our four seasons.”
Some of the Ukrainian management team will be relocating to North Bay. The group spent considerable time in the city over a year and a half investigating the local school system, housing, and how well newcomers integrated into the community before finally making their decision.
“We have land up at the airport we’ve been actively trying to pursue business opportunities with,” city councillor Derek Shogren told BayToday.ca.
“It shows the multi-use facilities of the airport,” he said. “It doesn’t just have to be aerospace-related businesses; it can be a multitude. I’m hoping it’s the first of many we see in some of that surplus land; we have a whole development plan coming through Invest North Bay for the airport.”
Shogren credited the efforts of Invest North Bay to bring the company to the community. "This is has been something Invest North Bay has spearheaded."