Company launching seafood processing business in Eastport

Posted Dec. 23, 2013, at 5:55 p.m.

EASTPORT, Maine — A company known as Campobello Holdings is investing a half million dollars to start a seafood processing business in Eastport, Gov. Paul LePage announced Monday.

The company will process, freeze, package, store and export lobster and other seafood products to customers around the world, according to state officials.

Campobello Holdings will invest nearly $500,000 in building improvements, equipment and employee training and will employ more than 15 people within the next two years, according to the governor’s announcement.

While the release does not indicate exactly where in Eastport the firm will be located, Doug Ray, spokesman for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said it would be on Madison Street. He indicated that Campobello Holdings was a start-up business affiliated with George Klapischak of New Jersey and Jimmy Wong of New York City.

Wong has more than 20 years of experience in the “live fish industry” in the New York City region, according to Klapischak, who said his own area of expertise is foreign trade.

The company initially plans to employ about five people and may employ up to 10 by summer and 15 in the fall, said Klapischak.

The company already has orders for seafood products, including fish caught offshore and in the Bay of Fundy, said Klapischak. It is still in the process of obtaining various permits and licenses, he said.

Wong’s business already ships lobsters throughout the world, said Klapischak. “We’re going to expand Jimmy’s business,” he said, through access to larger quantities of seafood and better quality seafood products.

Campobello Holdings plans to begin operations in Eastport in March or April, according to Ray.

It was welcome news to Mary Repole, chairman of the Eastport City Council, who was caught unaware of the announcement.

“Fantastic,” she said when informed of the news Monday afternoon. “That’s great.” She had heard “rumors” that a business might be making similar plans, said Repole.

“One of the biggest problems in Maine is that we don’t process enough of our food,” said Repole. “We send it away to process it and pay to bring it back.”

“We have worked very closely with our local, regional and technical advisers on plan implementation, and are very grateful for the high level of professionalism and ‘can do’ spirit we’ve encountered at every step,” Wong, an officer with Campobello Holdings, said in the governor’s announcement.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development and the governor’s office worked closely with the company in recent months to provide resources and incentives for Campobello Holdings, according to LePage’s announcement.

“We have an abundant resource that is coveted around the world,” said LePage. “This new processing facility will serve as a direct link from Maine waters to markets across the globe. A booming fishing and lobster industry is vital to the ongoing success of Maine’s economy.”

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