Acadian Seaplants, Nova Scotia's seaweed success story, marked the completion of a four-year, $8-million expansion Tuesday in economically hard-pressed Annapolis County.
"We will be able to maintain our competitive edge and seize the potential for our product in the global marketplace," said Acadian president J.P. Deveau in front of a crowd of workers and dignitaries.
They were assembled for the official opening of the company's flagship manufacturing plant in Nova Scotia, called the Deveau Centre after the company's founder Louis Deveau and his son, J.P. Deveau.
The Deveaus have been celebrated in Nova Scotia for creating a product and business where none existed before —turning seaweed into specialty fertilizers exported to 80 countries around the world.
Their expanded operation in the old Cornwallis Park military base will allow the company to increase production capacity by 80 per cent.
The company barred media from showing images of its new production line, citing proprietary concerns.
"What you have is a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. There's nothing like this in the world. We are the world's largest producer of these products that are used to help grow crops," J.P. Deveau told CBC News.
The opening of the more than 35,000 square-metre facility in a building once used as furniture plant is a milestone for the company.
It is also good economic news in rural Nova Scotia which has seen a steady erosion of people and jobs.
Sixty-five people work at the new plant.
Company touted as business example
Nova Scotia native Wade Hazel said his engineering job at Acadian Seaplants not only allowed for him to stay in the province, near family and the outdoor lifestyle he likes, it also offered career fulfillment.
Hazel helped design the new plant from scratch.
"It's not often in an engineering career you get a blank slate, which is what we were able to do here," he said.
"The lesson is just because we are Nova Scotian — or a rural Nova Scotian in particular — doesn't mean you can't be a global force in export markets and innovation. Acadian Seaplants is living proof that can happen."
The Dartmouth-based company has spent decades designing a commercial process to manufacture seaweed extracts while maintaining their bioactive compounds.
J.P. Deveau paid tribute to the various federal and provincial governments which have provided financial assistance to the company as it grew.
Under a capital investment program the province of Nova Scotia has paid Acadian Seaplants $914,000 for equipment purchased for the Deveau Centre.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil was on hand for the ribbon cutting.
He said Acadian Seaplants is an example for businesses in Nova Scotia.
"They are taking a commodity, adding value to it and exporting it around the world," he said. "We need to recognize this can happen in Nova Scotia."