$7.2 million to expand London agri-food accelerator, boost food and beverage companies and support 650 jobs
January 21, 2021 London, Ontario Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
With its resilient and innovative agri-tech and agri-food ecosystem, London contributes to Ontario’s food security and economic stability. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the growth of this key sector by providing businesses the resources they need to accelerate their ability to bring new agri-food innovations to market, while creating good jobs and helping the region recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Strengthening the food and beverage sector in London
Today, Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario) and Member of Parliament for London West, along with Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, announced a FedDev Ontario investment of $7.2 million for the Western Fair Association (WFA), in partnership with London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and RH Accelerator, to accelerate the growth of agri-food companies in the region.
This project was made possible by the shared vision of a number of key regional collaborators, working alongside the project partners mentioned above. These include Fanshawe College, Western University, the London Small Business Centre and the London Training Centre. This committed local cooperation has enabled a project that aligns with the City of London’s broader economic diversification objectives, and will ensure that the next generation of London’s food companies are positioned for success.
The project will expand the range of supports available to food entrepreneurs and high potential agri-food companies at The Grove, London’s agri-food accelerator, providing local agri-food businesses at different stages of growth with access to new equipment, seed funding and mentorship. This will build on the strength of the region’s concentration of agri-tech and food and beverage companies, testing capabilities and the unique expertise of the region’s post-secondary institutions.
The WFA will work with partners across London and its surrounding communities to promote access to the specialized capabilities and expertise located at The Grove, as well as advisory and training services for SMEs to accelerate the growth of innovative food and beverage companies. These efforts aim to attract foreign investment and increase the profile of London area agri-food companies.
Through this project, the WFA and partners expect to create 550 jobs and maintain 100 more, commercialize 20new products or services, and support the development and growth of up to 40 SMEs.
“London and the rural communities nearby have long been known for their capacity to produce and process agri-food for broad reach into the marketplace. As we work to build back a stronger and more inclusive economy, investments like this one demonstrate the Government of Canada’s vision to build on regional strengths for a stable future, while creating good jobs for Canadians.”
- Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario)
“Now, more than ever, supporting and diversifying our regional economies is essential for Canada’s success and economic sustainability. With FedDev Ontario’s funding for the Western Fair Association to establish an agri-food business-centred ecosystem, we are helping to jumpstart new companies to develop their business and bring their products to market, while improving London’s regional economy and creating quality, local jobs.”
- Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre
“Our agriculture and agri-food sectors are critical to the well-being of our population. Southern Ontario’s agri-food producers are playing an important role in supporting Canada’s economic growth and local economic diversification. The FedDev Ontario investment announced today will support London businesses to grow and strengthen this key sector, while creating valuable jobs, and helping our economy build back stronger.
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“Continuing our agricultural society’s long held mission into a new era with today’s announcement makes me and my WFA colleagues extremely proud,” said Reg Ash, CEO, Western Fair Association. “Ensuring that our 150-year legacy of standing shoulder to shoulder with agriculture innovators continues through the support of The Grove, new agri-food strategies and next generation agricultural entrepreneurs is exciting and extremely rewarding for our Association. Today’s funding announcement will be critical in the continued development of The Grove into a world class example of new ways we can connect people, producers and farmers to strengthen the industry and build greater food security for Canada. We cannot thank the government enough for their support in helping The Grove, bring people and food together.”
- Reg Ash, Chief Executive Officer, Western Fair Association
“Having been accepted as an applicant for The Grove, we’re now able to scale up our production and grow our business at a much more rapid pace. We could not be on this path today without the help of The Grove and the FedDev Ontario support. I look forward to being in a collaborative food production space to see how other food entrepreneurs are growing their business, to learn from them, and potentially collaborate to help grow our businesses even further.”
- Kelvin Van Rijn, Owner, The Fritter Shop
Founded in 1867, the Western Fair Association (WFA) is a not-for-profit agricultural society in London, Ontario, that supports the ongoing development of the agricultural industry and promotes its values to the urban community.
This project leverages over $10 million in additional investments.
London’s agri-food sector has over 90 companies employing more than 7,000 people.
Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested over $140 million in 102 projects in the agriculture/agri-food sector, and has invested over $44 million in 57 projects in the London area.
In November 2020, FedDev Ontario invested $3 million in Fanshawe College’s Innovation Village, bringing over $10 million in new investments to this region over the course of the last year.
FedDev Ontario announcement.
Ready Set Grow Podcast: Kapil Lakhotia and Reg Ash Launch The Grove FedDev Initiative