SHERBROOKE – A Chinese business may soon set up shop in the District of St. Mary's. On November 9, the municipality and the Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network (ESREN) signed a development Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a "natural health enhancement company," according to a news release issued Tuesday.
The signing took place at in Shanghai, China, where Warden Michael Mosher was participating in a Canadian trade mission. The MOU was signed by Mosher, John Beaton, CEO of ESREN and the company, Zhongshou Taiyang Group.
The company is interested in pursuing three types of work locally: a blood worm farm, medicinal plant cultivation and a Chinese Medicine Health Enhancement Centre. Beaton noted, “The three projects proposed are complimentary but are also non-dependent on the others to succeed.”
In an interview with The Journal Tuesday, Warden Mosher said this potential development could be a winner both environmentally and economically for the area.
“If it works out, it would be a win for everyone,” he said. “This (MOU) was just the first step in the process, but we have to start somewhere.” Discussions with the company, following a connection made by ESREN, have taken place since early summer 2018. The company has expressed interest in the former St. Mary’s River Smokehouse facility in Sherbrooke.
For the municipality, having the company establish a processing facility locally would be a priority. “That would help the tax base and employment,” he said.
With a focus on health products and services, St. Mary’s CAO Marvin MacDonald said the clean water and land in St. Mary’s is an attraction for the company. He added that the project also fits well with an increased focus on trade between the two countries.
“Canada is more and more interested in trade relations with China and China is more interested in trade with Canada,” said MacDonald.
“The MOU...is the first official step in the development of a health product value-add and export operation that is expected to result in a significant investment in the Eastern-Strait Region,” noted ESREN’s Beaton, CEO. “Getting to this point has been several months in the making and has certainly been a group effort.”
Grace Chum, the company’s CEO, with offices in Truro, Nova Scotia as well as Prince Edward Island and Toronto, states “so far our partnership with the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s and the Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network has been very positive. Through this partnership we have found additional ways that China and Canada can cooperate in business for mutual benefit.” Chum added “at Zhongshou Taiyang Group, we are looking forward to working on advancing a business relationship that includes a number of products with a clearly defined market in China and elsewhere.”
Representatives of the company are expected back in St. Mary’s in early December to further these discussions and site visits.
Also attending the signing were a number of representatives from Canada, including the Hon. Scott Brison - Minister of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, The Hon. Lawrence MacAulay - Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, The Hon. Jim Carr - Minister of International Trade Diversification, John McCallum – Canadian Ambassador to China, Alaina Lockhart - Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie and other federal and provincial government officials, including representatives from Canadian Trade Commission Service, Embassy of China in Ottawa, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, as well as Nova Scotia Business Inc. with CEO Laurel Broten reading the terms of the agreement.