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St. Thomas, Ont. purchases 350-hectare ‘mega-site’ for next industrial employer

St. Thomas, Ont., recently purchased a 'mega-sized' property near the northeast end of the city. The more than 350 hectares of land is mostly bounded by Highbury Avenue, Yarmouth Centre Road and Ron McNeil Line. Google Earth

St. Thomas, Ont., is hoping to reel in the region’s next big industrial employer after purchasing a “mega-sized” property near the northeast end of the city.

The more than 350 hectares (800 acres) of land is mostly bounded by Highbury Avenue South, Yarmouth Centre Road and Ron McNeil Line.

Read more: Average home price in London-St. Thomas declined in May

The property was acquired by city hall for strategic economic development purposes as discussions of another automotive EV battery manufacturing plant landing in Ontario spread.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to get to this point where we can now openly welcome potential investors to our community to not only see a site that we are proud to promote, but to learn about all of the other advantages that St. Thomas and Elgin County have to offer,” said St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston.

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“We’ve accumulated a large piece of property in order to put a large employer with good-paying jobs on it.”

Preston said there has already been a growing influx of interest in the property, located a short drive away from highways 401 and 402.

“We’re certainly looking for, first of all, an employer with a lot of jobs,” said Preston. “Also, one that is a good-paying employer with high wages. There’s lots of those out there, looking for sites that are ready to build on. We’ve heard two or three recently in Ontario, and St. Thomas is not only open for business, we’re ready for business.”

In March, Windsor, Ont., landed Canada’s first extensive electric vehicle battery plant as Stellantis and South Korean manufacturer LG Energy Solution announced the plans.

The $5-billion investment on the 420,000-square-metre plant is set to employ around 2,500 workers by 2025.

According to Preston, the newly purchased land in the city is now one of the largest “shovel-ready” industrial properties in Ontario.

According to St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston, the newly purchased land in the city is now one of the largest ‘shovel-ready’ industrial properties in Ontario. Amy Simon/Global News London

“This investment in our future will be key to furthering economic growth in our community,” Preston added.

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Last year, e-commerce giant Amazon started its overhaul of the former Ford plant on Colonel Talbot Road, just south of Highway 401.

Sean Dyke, CEO of St. Thomas Economic Development, said it’s not only a win, but also a relief to see new long-term investment and employment opportunities soon to become available to the growing community.

“More often than not, companies are looking to have shovels in the ground for large investments in months rather than years,” said Dyke. “I am exceptionally pleased that the city has chosen to take this strategic path forward to encourage a level of long-term success and economic sustainability that will be felt not just in St. Thomas, but across the entire region.”

Preston told Global News the city is “in a market that is all of North America and perhaps the world on looking for a manufacturer of this size and shape.”

“But we’re ready,” said Preston.

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