A family-run food-canning plant in Belleville, Ont., was the focus of a big expansion announcement Tuesday.
Sprague Foods is investing $5.6 million in a new storage facility.
The provincial government is providing $500,000 to strengthen local manufacturing, create jobs and support regional economic recovery.
“We are so very proud to support Sprague’s $5.6 million investment with $500,000 through our Eastern Ontario Development Fund,” said Ontario Minister of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli.
President of Sprague Foods, Rick Sprague, says the money will help with purchasing equipment and enable construction of their new storage facility.
“Our core categories are bean and bean products and soup,” said Sprague. “Years ago we made the decision to focus in on all natural, organic — basically what you make in the kitchen, we make here and put into a can.”
The 100-year-old business has outlived the competition.
Sprague says there were once well over 50 canning factories in the Quinte region but now it’s just them.
“It’s partly because we innovated,” said Sprague.
Sprague says not only is the company surviving the pandemic, it’s thriving and busier than ever.
“The pandemic showed us that we have a shortage of companies like us that are able to service that market and supply that market, so the opportunities are amazing,” said Sprague.
Read next: ‘Golden Jet’ Bobby Hull dies at 84
The recent provincial investment will allow for even more growth, something Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk says he’s happy to see.
“They use local ingredients, local people, it helps us all and we’re really grateful that they’re in Belleville and that they continue to have a really bright future,” said Panciuk.
Sprague Foods currently employees 50 people and the new expansion will allow for at least 15 additional new hires.