It was arguably the best business meeting I’ve had in years. (Apologies to the CEOs I meet every week. They’ll soon understand my rationale.)
On the way down to Cornwall to meet economic development officials, my colleague Terry Tyo and I planned a quick stop at Olymel. I recognized the company name, but didn’t know much about its operations.
Its expansive plant in a business park just east of Cornwall was a sight to behold. In Ottawa, we don’t often see food processing plants that stretch longer than city streets, surrounded by a couple dozen tractor trailers.
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The plant’s size wasn’t the marvellous discovery. It was the smell wafting through the air as you stepped into Olymel’s business offices.
It was the mouthwatering, oh-so-Canadian smell of perfectly cooked bacon.
You might recognize Olymel from its products, likely packaged bacon or deli meats, from your local grocery store. What you don’t know is that Olymel also makes private-label bacon for many of Canada’s biggest food retailers. It’s so successful that its Cornwall plant is now approaching 700 employees.
Not only do they process the bacon in Cornwall, they have the enviable job of taste testing it. Yes, OBJ reader, I sampled some of the best bacon ever. Salty, smoky, candied, thick cut. Oh, they had it all.
Best meeting ever.
There is a point to all of this. I’ve not gone bonkers for bacon.
That trip to Cornwall and many others to nearby municipalities gave OBJ a very real sense of the larger regional economy of Eastern Ontario. From logistics to advanced manufacturing and adventure tourism to high-tech hotspots, there is way more happening in Eastern Ontario than business leaders in Ottawa realize.
It started to dawn on me. How many of us in Ottawa limit our knowledge of Eastern Ontario to lakes, cottages and small towns next to highways leading to Toronto and Montreal?
As OBJ moves closer to its 25th anniversary later this year, it takes an important step forward. (More are coming.) It’s a step to expand our editorial mandate outside of Ottawa proper and dedicate news coverage to outlying communities with fascinating businesses and real economic development potential.
With this newsmagazine, OBJ Regional launches.
Keep flipping these pages to read about increased foreign investment potential from China following a $225-million infant formula plant in Kingston, ongoing efforts to make Renfrew the “Banff of Eastern Canada” and how the Port of Johnstown is experiencing an almost 50 per cent increase in shipments.
OBJ Regional will also include a new section on OBJ.ca, a new dedicated email newsletter, video profiles on YouTube and, later this year, a dedicated annual publication.
What’s the end goal?
OBJ Regional will raise awareness of economic activity and potential in Eastern Ontario. In doing so, it will foster relationships and connections between established business owners and ambitious entrepreneurs in the larger region.
Imagine what could happen when Ottawa’s money and engineering talent – responsible for global successes such as Shopify – meets the ingenuity and know-how of Eastern Ontario?
I can’t wait to see.
OBJ’s March newsmagazine
Ottawa’s residential real estate market is soaring to dizzying new heights. This month’s OBJ examines what’s driving the rapid appreciation in prices – and looks at how high home prices might go.
Also in this issue, Techopia editor Craig Lord looks at how local tech companies are leveraging an Ottawa testbed to position themselves to capitalize on 5G.
And be sure to check out the debut of OBJ Regional, a new editorial section covering businesses and economic activity across Eastern Ontario.