Economic official sees multiplier effect from UBE announcement

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership Chief Executive Officer Stephen Thompson. August 28, 2018 Photo by Melanie Irwin.

News this week that a transport trailer manufacturer is going to open an assembly plant in Sarnia spread through the community like wildfire.

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership CEO Stephen Thompson said reaction has been extremely positive.

It was announced Tuesday that CIMC Refrigerated Trailer Company is going to set up shop in the former UBE plant, off Highway 402.

“Our phones in our office have been busier than ever with inquiries,” said Thompson. “A lot of inquiries from potential suppliers that are interested in selling to the company. So, we’re hearing a lot from businesses. I know that other folks that are working closely with CIMC, such as Express Employment Professionals, are also having a busy time with their phones from individuals that are interested in working as employees for the company also.”

Thompson expects it will act as a catalyst for future investment.

“With manufacturing investments, there is always a multiplier involved. There are always spin-off jobs from one manufacturing job. So, we’re quite excited to see the investment, quite excited to see the jobs and quite excited to see our last large building fully occupied.”

It’s hoped the $5 million investment will create 90 assembly and light manufacturing jobs at the Ube Drive facility.

“With this project there’s also a wide range of jobs,” said Thompson. “There’s office jobs, there’s administration jobs, there’s assembly jobs, there’s higher-end manufacturing jobs. So, it really does create a wide range of opportunities for folks with different skill sets.”

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said it’s really good news for the entire region, especially given the history of the 72-acre UBE site.

“The city decided to bring about its first business park back in the late 90s, and all of a sudden UBE came out of the blue and bought the entire park,” said Bradley.  “They started up in 2002 and in 2009, regretfully they decided to leave North America and close their plant here and the one in Ohio, and so the building has sat there.”

Mayor Bradley said at one point UBE was going to pull the 350,000 square foot building down but luckily that didn’t happen.

He said this area has had a shortage of vacant, enclosed industrial space for some time.

“You can find buildings of 10, 20, 30 thousand-plus, you can’t find buildings with 300,000-plus square feet.  A lot of other communities like St. Thomas, like Windsor, that have had major manufacturers, have that competitive advantage because they have those buildings.  And so we need to look in the long term at what else can we produce in the future that would attract industries like that into our area.”