By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Nov. 17, 2012
A US based company is looking for a 320,000 sq-ft or at least 50 acres of industrial space to set up a manufacturing plant that would generate 180 full-time, well-paid jobs.
And it’s eyeing Squamish.
EnerTech, a waste-to-energy company based in Fishers, Indiana, is working on behalf of yet unnamed companies looking to set up a high-grade carbon pellet manufacturing plant, among nine other products.
“These are stellar companies and our job is to find the location, and make sure there is enough feed stock, good location and transportation facilities available, said Tim Powell, principal of he said.
Squamish’s geographical location, with its easy availability of raw wood products, a port, and the ease of export to Japan and China gives it an edge.
The project is at the Research and Development stage, nothing has been finalised yet, but the proponents are giving Squamish a good hard look.
“We are testing the markets, but obviously we will follow the path of least resistance,” said Tom Powell, the principal at EnerTech.
It was Google Earth that first brought Squamish to his notice.
This August, as he looked around for places to set the plant, his connections to Seattle also made him look at Canada.
Exploring Google Earth, he looked closely at the inlet closest to Vancouver, and centred on Squamish.
“When I zoomed in and saw the buildings and the logs, it looked like home to me,” he said.
Powell said the companies he is working for have looked at the forestry industry in Canada and Michigan, where the raw material is readily available, but exports can be a challenge.
“It just makes more sense to go the West Coast with this,” he said.
After spotting Squamish, he made a random call to realtors in Squamish.
Michael Tremblay of Blacktusk Realty picked up the phone.
A month later, Tremblay is helping Powell locate an appropriate spot in Squamish.
“We are looking at the BCR North Yard at this point,” he said.
Tremblay is also working with the district to find a way to bring the project to Squamish.
EnerTech is also looking at other communities in B.C., including Campbell River, Port Alberni, and Ladysmith, etc.
“I believe Squamish has the infrastructure in place, with railway, sea port, and the highway. This would be a huge economic boom for our town,” Tremblay said.
Yet, there are many challenges for this to come to Squamish.
US government offers a heavy subsidy based on a volume output, and cities down South can offer heavy incentives, including free land to attract jobs.
In Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, for example, the city owns the site and is willing to throw it into the deal, Powell added.
Dealing with the Crown can be another challenge.
“Here in the US, it’s much easier to bid on the land or forest.”
He said he hopes that Canadian government will match some of the incentives so easily available in the States.
With the right site, and easy supply of raw wood, the plant can produce upwards of 700,000 ton per year, generating 180 full-time jobs.
“Competitive labour rates will be paid to everyone, from managers to the guys sweeping the floor.”