by Heather Desserud, The Chamber Saint John Region
Our region is steeped in history. As Canada’s Original City, it’s no surprise that many of our member companies have deep roots in the community, whether they are large industrial players or small businesses. Companies that have survived and thrived through the years give the Saint John region its character, and J.D. Irving, Limited is a prime example.
J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) began as a small entrepreneurial company nearly 135 years ago, in Bouctouche, starting out with a sawmill, gristmill, carding mill, general store, lumber business, and a farm. It was a very different community at the time, but many aspects would be familiar to us today: a region propelled by trade and natural resources, a community of newcomers and multi-generational families, and most of all, a city of entrepreneurs and innovators.
JDI proudly calls Saint John home and maintains its headquarters here. Today the company’s diverse operations in Greater Saint John directly employ over 3,000 people and account for over $200 million in wages into the local economy. In addition to boosting consumer spending here in Saint John, the JDI team has given over 65,000 volunteer hours to the internationally award-winning Partners Assisting Local Schools (PALS) program.
The company’s pulp mill on Saint John’s west side is something of an icon for the community. At a time when dozens of pulp, paper, and sawmills have closed around the province, JDI is a success story: in 2014, the company announced the largest pulp mill investment in Canada since 1993, modernizing the mill and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and over 600,000 person hours of work for local contractors. Woven throughout all of their investments is the commitment to sustainable and responsible management of New Brunswick’s forests. For a province that prides itself on its natural beauty as well as its natural resources, JDI’s efforts to beautify and maintain the landscape are part of what makes the company a good corporate citizen.
Here in Saint John, our national status for the most parks per capita is in part the result of JDI contributions such as the Irving Nature Park, the adjacent Children’s park and maze as well as Wolaostoq Park overlooking the Reversing Falls. The parks are open year round to the public and offer scheduled events and programs at no charge.
JDI has been a member of the Chamber for decades. By participating in the community of businesses throughout the region, JDI is able to connect with local business owners and network with employees and companies that make up the fabric of their neighbourhood. It’s a great way to ensure that local companies know what they’re doing, while maintaining the close relationships that characterize how we do business in Saint John.