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Funds helping North Bay brewery retool to produce hand sanitizer

New Ontario Brewing Company’s goal is 100,000 litres to supply hospitals, pharmacies and grocers
New Ontario Brewing Company has received $294,000 from the provincial government for retooling so its facility can produce hand sanitizer under the PureNorth Medical brand. (Supplied photo)

In March, with COVID-19 circulating in the North, New Ontario Brewing Company didn’t hesitate to quickly switch production from suds to hand sanitizer to fill a growing need.

Now, the North Bay brewery is receiving provincial backing for the project, which is operating under the PureNorth Medical brand.

On Aug. 24, the province announced $294,000 for the company through the Ontario Together Fund.

"Our fight against COVID-19 continues and we applaud local businesses like New Ontario Brewing that have stepped up with solutions to help at a critical time," said Vic Fedeli, Nipissing MPP and minister of economic development, job creation and trade, in a news release.

"The reopening of our economy would not be possible without the collective efforts of everyone in every corner of this province.

“Together, we will ensure the province has the Ontario-made solutions to respond to needs now and in the future as the province reopens and recovers."

The funds will go toward modifying the New Ontario facilities and the installation of specialized equipment for ethanol production.

That will enable the company to produce more than 100,000 litres of hand sanitizer, which will supply area hospitals, pharmacies and grocers.

Some hand sanitizer already manufactured has been donated to senior care facilities and first responders.

With the brewery’s retooling, New Ontario was expected to recall 10 staff and hire five new staff members to operate two shifts around the clock to ensure production.

To support its expanded services, the company recently moved into a larger location, adding 2,000 square feet to its existing operation.

Funding provided by the $50-million Ontario Together Fund, launched in March, provides capital for projects that produce personal protective equipment and technology-driven solutions and services that allow businesses to reopen safely following the lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.