By Justin Seward/Jeremy Appel
The Bow Island Spitz plant, which employs more than 50 locals, will be closing down in July and moving south of the border, PepsiCo confirmed on Feb. 15.
PepsiCo Canada spokesperson Sheri Morgan called the plant’s closure a “difficult decision” in an e-mailed statement.
“This was a business decision based on an extensive evaluation of the long-term viability of this site and its ability to meet our increasing volume requirements for the brand,” wrote Morgan.
The company will provide the workers with financial support, access to financial counselling and job placement services, she added.
County of Forty Mile Reeve Steve Wikkirink says the announcement is bad news for the county.
“For Grassy Lake, Burdett, Bow Island and the county, that’s a lot of jobs and families effected,” he said.
“Hopefully we can find somebody to go back in and use that facility for a different purpose. But for now that’s a pretty big blow for our area.”
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes placed blame squarely on the shoulders of the business climate created by the provincial NDP government.
“When you look at the layers and layers of burden to business, with the carbon tax, minimum wage, and corporate tax increases, at the same time when the U.S. is streamlining all this, more and more Alberta businesses are going to be voting with their feet and moving,” Barnes said, calling the news “devastating.”
The decision to move the plant came as a surprise to Will Van Roessel of Bow Island’s Specialty Seeds.
“They’re the dominant employer in the sunflower market in Western Canada,” Van Roessel said.
“It’s not as if they were a small player losing market share, or anything like that.
“You can go to most stores in western Canada and wouldn’t even find sunflowers by another brand.”