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Thane Smallwood, general manager of the P.E.I. Bag Company in Bedeque, is shown in front of the company’s new printing press. The machine is currently being built and will be online by the fall. The company received a little more than $1.4 million in public funds to help buy and install it.
Thane Smallwood, general manager of the P.E.I. Bag Company in Bedeque, is shown in front of the company’s new printing press. The machine is currently being built and will be online by the fall. The company received a little more than $1.4 million in public funds to help buy and install it. - Colin MacLean

BEDEQUE, P.E.I. - The P.E.I. Bag Company is getting an infusion of public funds to help with the replacement of a 50-year-old printing press.

The long-standing Summerside-area company, based in Bedeque, announced Thursday that it has secured federal and provincial funding totalling a little more than $1.4 million to help pay for the upgrade.

The federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is contributing a $400,000 loan while the province is providing a $900,000 loan and a non-repayable grant of $142,000.

Thane Smallwood, general manager of the P.E.I. Bag Company, said the new press is a Flexotechnica, built by Italian company KBA. It’s currently being assembled with help from the manufacturer, and he expects it to be fully operational by October.

Smallwood said the investment will help maintain the 39 jobs at the bag company’s plant by keeping its products strong. The update will also allow the plant to double its bag printing capacity, which will prompt the hiring of two more people immediately and add more jobs into the future as it takes on new customers.

“This press really takes us to the next level in terms of our print quality and our ability to supply high-quality prints and high-quality products to our customers,” said Smallwood.

“This was absolutely a foundational decision for this company for the next 10 to 20 years.”

Provincial Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer called the significant investment of provincial funds in this project a sound investment in a sound Island business.

“It’s a great investment,” said Palmer.

“It’s a $900,000 loan. We as a province charge interest on that and we’ll make money on that. So, it’s a great piece of equipment for an established company. There is very little risk for us, in terms of the payback of that. So, we’re happy to support them.”

The P.E.I. Bag Company was established in 1935 by three entrepreneurs, and their descendants are still co-owners in the company.

Its bags are used to hold and transport potatoes, shellfish, animal feed, flour, sugar and a number of other products.

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