Trinity Bay North hosts potential investors for former OCI plant

Chinese group looking to bring seal processing to plant


Published on January 18, 2017

The potential investors with the local economic development committee and Bonavista MHA Neil King.

©Photo via Facebook

The Municipality of Trinity Bay North is taking serious steps to bringing new investors to the vacated Ocean Choice International (OCI) plant in Port Union.

Earlier this month the town, along with the local economic development committee and Bonavista MHA Neil King, hosted Chinese venture capitalist investment group — through St. John's company Àr n-oileàn Resources — to tour the facility and see the community.

According to King, The group represents a collection of investors looking to contribute $90 million (US).

This past August, OCI transferred ownership of the facility to the Town of Trinity Bay North, so the town could seek out potential investors and new business. The plant, which operated as a shrimp-processing facility in recent years, was shut down after it was damaged during Hurricane Igor in 2010. About 180 people used to work at the plant before the shutdown.

 

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OCI hands plant property over to Municipality of Trinity Bay North

 

Last week, the Chinese visitors toured the plant, and met with the local representatives over two separate dinners in Port Union and St. John’s.

The group visiting the former OCI plant.

©Photo via Facebook

Trinity Bay North Deputy Mayor Shelly Blackmore, who chairs the local economic development committee, told TC Media the visit was very encouraging.

“We look and we see opportunity,” said Blackmore. “We have hope.

“To have someone come in from outside the country and see the potential — it’s encouraging for us.”

MHA King added, “It got quite a bit of dialogue going. It showed their interest — their seriousness to come to Newfoundland and Labrador to invest and live.”

According to King, the investors aim to set up a seal-processing operation at the plant.

He told TC Media the main focus for the potential seal processing plant would be the seal oil, but all secondary processing would take place at the plant as well — using the entire seal.

King says if this plant is established in Port Union, they are already looking at utilizing local work force — drawing on some of the experience in the area from the now-closed NuTan Furs seal plant in Catalina.

 “With this operation you’re going to have a myriad of skill levels. It goes from production, to pharmaceuticals, to research and development. So it’s a great mix of jobs across the board,” King said of the potential for the former OCI plant.

Blackmore says an industry that suits the local workforce is a goal the economic development committee has been working towards.

“With the skills and experience (the workforce has) in the seal industry, we really want to build upon that,” said Blackmore.

As for the current state of the facility, the town is looking at various funding sources to begin renovations and get closer to operation as soon as possible. King says they’re working Municipal Affairs to finalize the transfer of ownership to the town.

 “The town is working very hard to get things rolling; like myself, they want to see things rolling as quickly as they can because this is a great facility. The building is in great shape,” said King.

“I use the expression, it’s an empty canvas right now. Everything is out of there and, once renovations can take place, you can do what you like with it.”

 

jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons