Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Copper River Seafoods Opens Manufacturing Facility in Kenai

Copper River Seafoods celebrated this past week the one-year anniversary of its apprenticeship program and the opening of its new seafood manufacturing facility at the port of Kenai. The renovated site is a vintage building that opened as a cannery in 1912, and was later occupied by Dragnet Fisheries from 1978 until 1997.

The plant now boasts new processing and refrigeration equipment and an all-Alaska staff, including some employees in the company’s apprenticeship program.

Scott Blake, president and chief executive officer of Copper River Seafoods, gave much credit to the company’s workforce development program, done in cooperation with the federal Department of Labor and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Blake said he got into the business to protect his livelihood as a fifth generation fisherman in Alaska and he wants it to be there for his children. Blake said he has made a commitment to have his company “here to stay” in Alaska. He also told the crowd of about 100 people assembled for the presentation and plant tour “We have to get out of this perspective that we are just processing salmon or crab. We are a professional food manufacturing company that operates in Alaska, that creates opportunity for local Alaskans, sustainability for the fishermen and the state.”

For each job added at Copper River Seafoods, Balke estimated that two additional jobs are added with their associated suppliers of products and services.

Ben Eveland, the company’s human resources, development and training director, said the federal apprenticeship model being studied will keep those trained employed in fields ranging from construction equipment repair and mechanical repair to industrial/refrigeration jobs.

“We want to make sure that this stays Alaskan and that it is centered on the fishermen and the people in the industry, and that we make product here,” (in Alaska) he said.

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