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Federal loan to grow jobs, global market reach at Benjamin Bridge in Gaspereau

Kings-Hants member of parliament, Treasury Board president and Minister of Digital Development Scott Brison was on hand Sept. 14 in Gaspereau to announce a $500,000 repayable loan from the federal government to Benjamin Bridge Vineyards to help them speed up production and respond to demand for their wines.
Kings-Hants member of parliament, Treasury Board president and Minister of Digital Development Scott Brison was on hand Sept. 14 in Gaspereau to announce a $500,000 repayable loan from the federal government to Benjamin Bridge Vineyards to help them speed up production and respond to demand for their wines. - Sara Ericsson

MP and minister Scott Brison says wine “exactly the kind of industry” to invest in

GASPEREAU – At least twenty jobs are slated to be added at Benjamin Bridge Vineyards through loaned federal funds also intended for growing its production and global reach.

Kings-Hants member of parliament and minister Scott Brison was at Benjamin Bridge Vineyards in Gaspereau Sept. 14 to announce a repayable federal loan of $500,000 for the winery towards more jobs and its purchases of automated wine production and barcoding equipment.

Altogether, the funds will speed up the winery’s production, help it meet market demand – its known worldwide for its sellout sparkling wines – and expand its reach in the global marketplace, according to owner Gerry McConnell.

“Culinary tourism is bringing in millions and millions of dollars to this part of Nova Scotia. This is exactly the kind of industry we should be investing in,” said Brison, pictured here holding a glass of the winery’s sparkling wine.
“Culinary tourism is bringing in millions and millions of dollars to this part of Nova Scotia. This is exactly the kind of industry we should be investing in,” said Brison, pictured here holding a glass of the winery’s sparkling wine.

“Government is recognizing the value of the wine industry in Nova Scotia and is prepared to invest – that’s what is really significant here,” said the winemaker.

The winery was among the region’s first to open its doors two decades ago at the industry’s beginning. It has since grown to employ 18 full-time and 26 part-time jobs.

This is the second funding announcement for the industry in just over two weeks – Brison also announced $640,000 for two export-related wine industry initiatives on Aug. 28.

And now with the winery set to add 20 more jobs, Brison said this winery highlights why the federal government continues investing in the industry he has dubbed “Napa North.”

“Culinary tourism is bringing in millions to this part of Nova Scotia. This is exactly the kind of industry we should be investing in,” he said, adding the government has moved away from “propping up failing industries.”

“It’s more sensible to invest in industries that are doing well and could do even better.”

The vineyard is owned and operated by McConnell Gordon Estates Limited. Company president Gerry McConnell said the funds mean the winery will produce faster, meet its product demand more readily and help expand the region’s global export reach.
The vineyard is owned and operated by McConnell Gordon Estates Limited. Company president Gerry McConnell said the funds mean the winery will produce faster, meet its product demand more readily and help expand the region’s global export reach.

McConnell said he is proud to grow his grapes and his business, and that he’s “even prouder” of how the industry has created jobs in Kings County.

“[The industry] has provided those Nova Scotians who have gone away and have been in the industry in places throughout the world... a chance to come home, because now there is something here, and we’re attracting people,” he said.

He also said funding for wineries continues to be important even after nearly a decade of federal investments.

“The government assistance that we get – the amount is like that,” said McConnell, indicating a small amount with his fingers. “Australia is like this, France is like this,” he said, indicating a much larger size received by the larger, more established wine regions.

“We are a baby industry, and as a baby industry, we need assistance and help.”

The repayable loan was made through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program.

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