Jobs to blossom, production to grow under Manitoba potato-plant expansion

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. — A major expansion project has been announced for a Manitoba potato-processing plant that’s expected to create about 90 new full-time jobs.

J.R. Simplot Co. and the provincial government have outlined details of the $460-million expansion of the Portage la Prairie complex.

A joint government-company release says the plant’s size will grow to nearly 43,000 square metres from about 17,000 square metres.

Work is to start this spring and completion is set for the fall of 2019.

The project, which is not expected to affect current operations, will more than double the plant’s need for potatoes from regional growers.

Manitoba growers annually harvest about 2,630 hectares of potatoes — one-fifth of Canada’s total potato crop.

The province is providing tax-increment financing of up to $6.3 million for capital investments and road improvements, along with about $522,000 in employee training contributions, based on the number of new positions.

Manitoba Hydro is to provide $1 million for electrical and natural gas efficiency projects, based on the plant meeting guidelines of the Crown utility’s PowerSmart program.

Simplot plans to incorporate similar industry-leading energy and water efficiencies first established at the company’s plant in Caldwell, Idaho.

J.R. Simplot is headquartered in Boise, Idaho and has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and China.

It markets products to more than 40 countries.

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