The U.S.-based J.R. Simplot Company is investing $460 million to expand its operations in Portage La Prairie, which will add almost 100 jobs
Portage La Prairie, Man. – A U.S.-based company is making a major investment in its operations in Manitoba.
A statement on the government of Manitoba’s website says Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company will invest $460 million on its facility, increasing the size to 460,000 sq. ft. from 180,000 sq. ft.
The new facility will “double the plant’s need for potatoes from regional growers, while increasing employment by 87 expected new full-time positions,” says the statement.
Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s Agriculture minister, says in the statement that the partnership with Simplot has always been a positive one. “This investment further cements their reputation as a pillar in Manitoba’s agriculture and food processing sector,” says Eichler. “The plant increase in capacity also presents a tremendous opportunity for Manitoba farmers to strengthen their partnership with a reliable local processor and increase potato production in Manitoba.”
The province says Simplot’s current operations will likely continue as they are during the period of construction with the expanded processing capacity expected in the fall of 2019.
Mark McKellar, Simplot’s food group president, says in the statement that Manitoba offers the ideal setting for business. “It has access to quality potatoes, a strong grower community, availability of highly skilled employees and distribution routes that continue to expand our footprint,” says McKellar.
The province of Manitoba is providing “tax increment financing up to $6.31 million to assist with anticipated capital investments and road improvement. [It] will also provide up to $522,000 in employee training contributions, based on the number of new positions.”
The statement also says Manitoba Hydro will provide $1 million in PowerSmart program funding for electrical and natural gas efficiency projects, based on the plant meeting program guidelines.
As part of the expansion, “Simplot will incorporate similar industry-leading energy and water efficiency processes which were first established at the company’s plant in Caldwell, Idaho. It was recently awarded Food Processing Green Plant of the Year in 2017,” says the statement.
According to the company’s website, it was the first to invent the commercial French fry more than 60 years ago.