Canadian firm to take over portion of Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont., mayor confirms
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:37AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:12PM EST
The southwestern Ontario community of Leamington could be in for some good news this week as it relates to the Heinz processing plant, which is slated to be closed later this year.
Leamington Mayor John Paterson has confirmed to CTV News that a Canadian firm will take over a portion of the space that the Heinz plant currently occupies in the municipality.
The ketchup-maker had announced last fall that it would shutter the plant in mid-2014, putting some 800 full-time employees out of work, along with another 500 seasonal workers. The news devastated the 28,000-person community, which is dubbed the “tomato capital of Canada,” as Heinz is the largest employer in Leamington, having operated there for more than a century.
Paterson said Wednesday a news release will be issued by Heinz on Thursday morning that “will make a lot of people happy,” though he couldn’t confirm any further details.
It was not immediately clear what impact the news would have on jobs in Leamington, but Paterson cut short Wednesday a trip to Toronto, where he was attending a conference for the Ontario Good Roads Association.
"When I was getting prepared to come up to Toronto for this conference, the interested party we were working with gave me a jingle and said that it was probably a good idea if I was in Leamington on Wednesday,” Paterson told CTV Windsor.
Paterson said several business proposals emerged since Heinz announced the plant’s closure last November.
He said the municipality has been trying to attract investment by arranging attractive water and property taxes for the interestedparty. The town has also been working to connect the party with the provincial and federal governments.
H.J. Heinz Company was purchased in 2014 by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway and a Brazilian investment firm. Also last year, fast-food giant McDonald’s said it would end its 40-year relationship with Heinz since the company’s new president is a former Burger King CEO. Heinz has also said it will close manufacturing plants in South Carolina and Idaho, eliminating more than 600 U.S. jobs.