The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced Thursday it would lend a footwear company $8 million interest-free to expand its factory in the eastern Newfoundland community of Harbour Grace.
The expansion of Terra Nova Shoes, a subsidiary of Kodiak Group Holdings, means an extra 50 jobs at the factory which has operated in Harbour Grace for over three decades.
Premier Danny Williams called the company a major employer and mainstay of the community. It has already built a 30,000-square-foot extension to the existing 70,000-square-foot building to accommodate the expansion of the operation from 170 employees to 220.
"The plan is to create another 50 jobs here. So it's a welcome boost to employment and economic activity in the region," Williams said.
Kevin Huckle, the president of Kodiak Group Holdings, said the company is already hiring new employees.
"We've so far added about 35 from where we were. We've had some turnover, we've lost a few jobs to oilsands projects in Alberta. We're hoping with announcements and movement like this we will start to curb that," he said.
The announcement transforms what began as a local boot maker in the 1970s to one of the primary production centres for a global outwear company.
Huckle said all of Kodiak's Canadian manufacturing will now be based in Harbour Grace as the company will close its Ontario factory and consolidate its production here.
Rupert Crocker, the second employee ever hired 37 years ago, was pleased with the announcement.
"Every week there is our paycheque. [We] pay our bills and the whole bit, you know what I mean … It's really a boost in Harbour Grace where work is very scarce I can guarantee you," he said.