KENORA – A wood products manufacturing facility in Kenora is creating skills training, employment and economic development opportunities for local First Nations. The Ontario Government though the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has put $700,000 plus a loan guarantee of $500,000 into Wincrief Forestry Products.
With the funding, Wincrief Forestry Products Limited has bought, renovated and equipped an existing plant and has begun manufacturing modular homes for First Nations and other nearby communities. The company also plans to begin manufacturing untreated wood poles for utility companies and log home manufacturers.
Half of the plant’s 20 current full-time employees are members of the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation communities of One Man Lake, Swan Lake and Whitedog. When fully operational the company expects to have about 40 full-time employees.
The company is a partnership between Wabaseemoong Independent Nation and Moncrief Construction Limited.
“Supporting innovative companies like Wincrief Forestry Products is part of the Open Ontario plan to help create jobs and opportunities in Northern Ontario,” enthused Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, and Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
“I thank Minister Gravelle for his support of Wincrief Forestry Products. I am honoured that the provincial government can assist in the growth of a business that is majority owned by Wabaseemoong First Nation. I am also encouraged by the jobs that will be made available, and the hope that will come from the growth of the partnership between Wabaseemoong and Moncrief brothers,” shared Chief Eric Fisher, Wabaseemoong Independent Nation.
“We appreciate the support of the McGuinty government and Minister Michael Gravelle in getting this venture started. This business will supply some of the highest quality of homes to the region. We are taking advantage of the skilled workforce that exists in the local First Nation communities to work with skilled tradesmen. This fall we plan to start up our utility pole plant, creating more jobs both in the plant and in our local forests, Greg Moncrief, Chief Executive Officer, Wincrief Forestry Products Ltd.
When fully operational the company expects to be building up to 40 homes annually.