When it comes to agribusiness in Canada, there is no place like the warm “banana belt” known as Chatham-Kent. Located in southwestern Ontario, Chatham-Kent is one of the largest municipalities in the province and the 12th largest in Canada with over 2,450 square kilometers of the richest farm soil. It is surrounded by fresh water, and is only an hour drive to seven U.S. entry points. All of this means that farmers and businesses, including the food processing industry, have significant advantages over their competition.
Stuart McFadden, Director of Chatham-Kent Economic Development says “this provides our processors with a distinct competitive advantage in penetrating the US market. Abundant feedstock of fresh vegetables with over 75 varieties of crops makes Chatham-Kent an excellent site for new food companies that wish to establish North American operations.”
Chatham-Kent has assets vital to supporting value-added food processing operations, the greenhouse sector, and other similar agribusiness. In addition, the Chatham-Kent Economic Development team provides direct support for both domestic and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) initiatives to ensure that all investments yield their maximum potential.
Agriculture and Agribusiness in Chatham-Kent
Agriculture is a $3 billion economic driver for the Chatham-Kent region with local crops including tomatoes, carrots, seed corn, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, sugar beets, and more. We also feature some year-round crops such as peppers and tomatoes which are grown in the ever expanding greenhouse industry. “Chatham-Kent is the ideal location to invest as the natural endowments of the area make it competitive. When you factor in the weather, crop heat unit (CHU) days, soil quality, and availability of infrastructure and foreign manufacturing, it’s easy to see why companies are choosing to be here.” – Prashant Pathak, CEO, Ekagrata Inc. Agriculture also plays a key role in the agribusinesses located within the region. For example, the headquarters for Pioneer Hi-Bred Limited, a division of DuPont and a major agricultural seed breeding and biotechnology company, are located in Chatham-Kent. GreenField Specialty Alcohols Inc.'s Commercial Alcohols division, Canada's largest ethanol plant and one of the world's largest, is also located in Chatham-Kent. As a most recent example of majour investment, Whyte’s, a leading Canadian-owned prepared food manufacturer and importer, has expanded from Quebec into a new facility located in the Chatham-Kent town of Wallaceburg.
The Chatham-Kent Economic Development Team
The team at the Chatham-Kent Economic Development are available to help businesses, both local and international, become an integrated member of the community.
In order to simplify the investment process, businesses who are ready to invest in Chatham-Kent can work directly with Economic Development Officers. They serve as Project Managers providing a single point of contact within the Municipality for the duration of the file. This unique approach is available to both new investors and existing companies in the community.
“From an international perspective, Chatham-Kent has high-quality affordable land that is backed by a stable government and features robust infrastructure. Chatham-Kent is uniquely situated as an ideal location for agribusiness to be successful thanks to a combination of right place, right cost, and right connections.” - Kim Cooper, Economic Development Officer and Agriculture Specialist for Chatham-Kent Economic Development
KEEPING COMPANY WITH GREAT COMPANIES
When it comes to the Canadian tomato sector, any tomatoes grown for the processing industry are grown in Chatham-Kent or Essex. There are a number of tomato processors in both regions. Here in Chatham-Kent, we have three processors – ConAgra Foods (Dresden), Harvest-Pac Products (Chatham) and Weil’s Food Processing (Wheatley). There are a number in the Essex region, and all of these processors use tomatoes grown by our tomato growers in both Chatham-Kent and Essex. When you invest in Chatham-Kent, you are becoming a part of a powerful community of manufacturers. 60% of head offices of Canadian food and beverage processors are located in Ontario. Ontario leads the country in agri-food exports. Last year, we shipped over $8 billion in agri-food products around the world.
Access an Ontario Investment Ready: Certified Site
In order to ensure that businesses can make investments, set up quickly, and avoid any issues, Chatham-Kent has established a 32-acre fully serviced greenfield property that is ready for development. The site, which is zoned for multiple industrial uses, is located directly adjacent to Highway 401 and less than an hour drive to a US border crossing. It is located within the Bloomfield Business Park with surrounding industries including trucking and freight, computer systems design, agribusiness, manufacturing, and warehousing.
By being an Ontario Investment Ready: Certified Site, investors have access to up-front property information, mapping and completed assessments including environmental, heritage, archaeological and species at risk reviews.
Continual innovation, specialization, and persistence have brought the business of farming light years ahead in the production of top quality, abundant, and safe food products. When you invest in Chatham-Kent, you are joining an agriculture and business community that is connected, vibrant, and growing for the future.