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Funding for Ontario’s food and beverage sector


August 6, 2015
By Bakers Journal
From left to right: Deep Virk, controller with Furlani's Food Corporation; Jonathan Kawaja, chief operating officer with Furlani's Food Corporation; Wladyslaw Lizon, Member of Parliament for Mississauga East−Cooksville; and Anne Sado, president of George Brown College, after the funding announcement. FedDev Ontario.

Aug. 6, 2015, Mississauga, ON – The federal government will provide up to $10.1 million in funding to strengthen the food and beverage sectors in southern Ontario.

Late last month Wladyslaw Lizon, MP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, announced that George Brown College’s Office of Research and Innovation will receive funding of up to $7 million to expand its Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) and establish new labs for research and development to support product and process improvement for the food and beverage industry. Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) contribution of $7 million will leverage additional funding of $4.7 million from George Brown College, $2 million from industry partners and $500,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The $14 million project will include a bake and large quantity lab; a beverage research lab; a culinary and large quantity lab; and a new industry engagement and interaction facility to support the introduction and launch of new food products and services. The investment is funded through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative.

The project will also assist small- and medium-sized companies in accessing the necessary equipment, testing and development space and networking opportunities needed to bring new products and services to market.

“George Brown College is proud of the role we play in supporting job creation and business growth. Our increased capabilities in applied research, made possible by FedDev Ontario and by donor and industry support, will result in new and enhanced partnerships within the food and beverage industry. This will drive product and business innovation while providing our students with hands-on experience as they prepare for their future careers,” said Anne Sado, president of George Brown College.

This project will create up to 76 jobs by completion, plus an additional 54 jobs in the three years afterwards.

Lizon also announced up to $3.1 million in funding for Furlani’s Food Corporation. The company is a privately-owned manufacturer of specialty garlic bread products, such as garlic toast, breadsticks and loaves.

The new funding will be used to improve Furlani’s efficiency and productivity and boost its production capacity of specialty food products. The company will be investing in advanced production equipment and a building expansion to add 21,900 square feet of freezer space. In addition to increasing production capacity, the adoption of new technologies will allow the company to develop a new line of breadstick products and expand its existing line of products. This is expected to enhance the company’s competitiveness in global markets.

“Furlani’s has grown to become one of the strongest competitors in frozen specialty bread production, through its dedicated employees, emphasis on continuous improvement and innovation, and willingness to invest to grow,” said Jonathan Kawaja, chief operating officer with Furlani’s Food Corporation. “We are grateful and honoured to receive this financing from FedDev Ontario. It is a great support to our company and allows us to expand our capabilities, improve our competitive position, and continue to grow.”

The project is expected to create up to 74 full-time equivalent jobs by 2017 and an additional 34 full-time equivalent jobs in the two years after project completion. It will also leverage close to $8.8 million through private sector investments.

The funding is a repayable contribution made through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Business Growth and Productivity initiative.

Lizon, who made the announcements on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, said the funding “speaks to our government’s commitment to supporting quality manufacturers and keeping a strong food and beverage supply chain in Ontario. This investment will allow reputable and innovative organizations to strengthen manufacturing capacity, which will pave the way to economic growth, jobs and opportunities.”

Ontario has the largest food and beverage processing industry in Canada. The sector accounted for 14.7 per cent of manufacturing jobs in 2013.