Port aux Basques -
Gerard Merrigan doesn't know yet what sort of business will set up shop in the former Seafreez fish plant on Port aux Basques' waterfront.
"The one thing I can tell you for sure - it won't be a fish plant," said the town councillor and chairman of the town's economic development committee.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced a grant worth $810,704 last Wednesday to turn the plant into an industrial space with waterfront access.
The town purchased the former plant from the Barry Group for $1 earlier this year. The building had been slated for demolition until the town expressed an interest in the property. It was last used as a fish plant in the summer of 2007.
Merrigan said the town will strip down the building and replace almost everything, including wiring, lighting and flooring.
"We want to have it ready to attract industry so we can create some long-term, sustainable jobs," he said.
The plan is to have the building ready for a business early in the new year. The town will begin looking for a business interested in using the property right away.
Merrigan thinks companies involved in fields such as manufacturing, mining or oil and gas exploration would be interested in using the property and its wharf facilities.
Renovations will have an immediate affect on the local economy through construction jobs and the purchase of materials, Merrigan said.
Crews were at the plant late last week removing the last of the refrigeration equipment and cleaning up the site.
Besides the ACOA grant, the town will be investing $120,000 into the building through cash and in-kind contributions. That cost will come from the town's economic development fund and will not have an effect on taxes.
Merrigan said there is the possibility for other funding partners to get involved in the refurbishment of the plant, although there are none at this time.
Acquisition of the plant includes the wharf, which should be an enticing feature for many businesses.
Merrigan said the town has been approached in the past by businesses looking for waterfront property. Before acquiring the fish plant, the town had nothing to offer. He said it's now a different story.