The provincial government is providing a $125,000 term loan to New Brunswick-based Silk Stevens Ltd. to assist the company in establishing operations in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Since its inception in 2006, Silk Stevens has been working within Atlantic Canada’s aquaculture industry. The company will use the loan to acquire equipment such as an underwater camera, laboratory supplies, technology and other investments in design technology and training.
“Newfoundland and Labrador’s aquaculture industry has experienced exciting developments in recent years that are leading to new opportunities for businesses,” said Keith Hutchings, minister of innovation, business and rural development. “Silk Stevens’ decision to expand into Grand Falls-Windsor is attributed to that growth and further positions the community as a service centre for the Coast of Bays region and other parts of the province engaged in aquaculture. It also demonstrates our government’s commitment to attracting new investment and creating rewarding opportunities in rural areas of the province.”
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Derrick Dalley said it's encouraging to see the aquaculture service sector expanding in this province.
“Aquaculture is a very important industry to many rural and coastal communities.," Dalley said. "The provincial government has invested significantly in its development, including over $24 million in projects since 2006, which has leveraged over $400 million from the private sector. Our collective success will undoubtedly mean greater employment and other opportunities for residents of our province, whether through farming efforts or in the service sector."
In its first year of operations, the company plans to hire three employees and eventually expand its workforce to 11 by the fifth year. Economically, the project is expected to attract $363,500 of direct new investment into the province. The net benefit to the provincial economy, over a five year period, is estimated at $2.16 million.
“I am delighted to see another business open its doors in Grand Falls-Windsor,” said Susan Sullivan, minister of health and community services and MHA for Grand Falls-Windsor -Buchans. “This community recognizes the value of the aquaculture industry to the region and we are pleased to play such a vital role in servicing the sector,” Sullivan said.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s aquaculture industry continues to experience growth in terms of production and market value. In 2011 production rose 12.4 per cent to 17,264 tonnes, contributing $120 million to the provincial economy. There are about 133 licensed aquaculture sites employing more than 700 people.
“We are excited to be in Newfoundland and Labrador and Grand Falls-Windsor,” said Silk Stevens president Dave Stevens. “We are perfectly centred here, as the mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor says, to grow our full service engineering design businesses as well as to play an engineering support role to an aquaculture industry that is rapidly growing," Stevens said. "It is a sector that has emerged as one of the best in the world with state-of-the-art hatcheries and world class cold water grow-out sites. There is international interest in exploring what we are doing here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The investment was made through the provincial government’s Business Attraction Fund. The 2012 provincial budget allocated $15.5 million under the Business Attraction Fund to enhance the province's ability to compete for and attract new national and international business investment.