Agri-businesses can soon find a new home in a familiar part of London, Ont.
By Paula Schuck
A new business venture in London’s Western Fair District, dubbed the Grove, is expected to make the city a major hub in the agri-business space, while also creating hundreds of jobs.
“For more than 150 years, the Western Fair Association (WFA) has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with innovators in economic prosperity and food security. The Grove will bring together the next generation of entrepreneurs, educators and leaders to join us in bringing new agriculture and food businesses, products and technologies to market,” Greg Blanchard, director of marketing and communications for Western Fair District, told Farms.com.
The Grove has already attracted its first major tenant, LiveFit Foods Inc., a company that produces freshly made meals for home delivery. LiveFit is expected to bring 200 jobs to London when the company opens the doors to its new operation on Jan. 1.
The Middlesex London Food Policy Council will also call the Grove home in the coming months. The organization identifies challenges and finds solutions to develop a healthier, sustainable, resilient and equitable local food system.
With approximately 150,000 square feet (13,500 square metres) available, the facility has flexibility and room for future tenants. The Grove will offer businesses space from 900 to several thousand square feet. It will see several buildings renovated, including the Canada Building, the West Annex and the Progress Building.
The Grove announcement is positive news taking a bit of the sting out of the Gateway Casinos forthcoming relocation to southwest London’s southwest end. The loss of the gambling operation is expected to cost Western Fair $6 million in annual revenue.
The Grove concept was in the works for several years as the WFA looked to play a larger role in tomorrow’s agri-business and agri-food industry. The new venture is part of a re-envisioned agriculturally focused business strategy to ensure WFA’s agricultural leadership role along with the economic prosperity and food security for Londoners and all Canadians.
The Grove is expected to bring together agri-food businesses, producers, educators, entrepreneurs and other thought leaders in a common space. Repurposed buildings will be used in a variety of ways, including food production, retail, education and business services.
The origin of the name has special significance. The original grounds of the Western Fair Association included a grove of huge oak and pine trees, originally known as Salters Grove.
“Because a grove of trees forms small clusters that created a tight community sharing resources such as soil and water – we felt it was the perfect name for our new agri-business unit,” Blanchard said.
The Grove launches in 2020.
For more information about the development visit: https://www.thegrovewfd.com.
Photo credit: The Grove photo