Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie , announced a FedNor investment of $450,000 in the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. The funds will help address the priorities of the Algoma district agri-food sector and promote food processing business development across Northern Ontario. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor.
“Supporting farmers, producers, and agri-food entrepreneurs is important because they support communities, and we are proud to help create new opportunities for growth in Algoma district and Northern Ontario. This investment will help strengthen and expand agri-food sector supply chains, and it will also help ensure that good food is produced locally and remains available here at home.” said, Sheehan.
Specifically, the project will help agri-food entrepreneurs in the region by providing training, mentoring, and market development support, including trade show opportunities outside the region. It will also help support a shared commercial test kitchen in Sault Ste. Marie and support other organizations developing similar food distribution and commercial kitchen infrastructure across Northern Ontario. The project will support innovation and improvements in packaging, processing, and waste reduction, including use of up-cycled, cost-effective, and sustainable products, as well as strengthening and expanding supply chain networks. Finally, it will support the development of new growing technologies including vertical farming and hydroponics prototypes.
“FedNor’s support helps make it possible for us to work with farmers and communities to build a resilient agri-food sector in Algoma region and Northern Ontario. These funds will help us develop and foster local expertise and to maximize agri-food opportunities and help our region meet its great potential.” said, David Thompson, Director of the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN)
As part of the project, RAIN will collaborate with agri-food partners in Algoma district and across Northern Ontario, including the Huron North Community Economic Alliance, Algoma University, the Algoma Community Pasture, Agri Tech North, Collège Boréal, Smart Indoor Farming, and other farming and municipal organizations. In addition to strengthening food supply chains in the region, anticipated benefits of this investment include the creation of 37 jobs and maintenance of 44 more, the expansion and modernization of 20 businesses, the creation of two strategic alliances and maintenance of six more, and the acquisition of a research greenhouse.