Wheatland County has recently become a magnet for new industries, like the hydrogen energy plants, wallboard manufacturing plant, and more. But the biggest industry so far was just announced today: De Havilland Canada (DHC) is bringing a state of the art aircraft manufacturing facility to Wheatland County!
This enormous, 1500 acre facility will create up to 1500 jobs, and will be located between Strathmore and Chestermere between Range Roads 264 and 265. The facility will be a huge player in diversifying Wheatland County's economy, which Premier Jason Kenney was very excited about.
"For most of our modern history, we've been so closely tied to the great Canadian energy industry. We are blessed to have it, we are fortunate that Alberta is the home of the world's third largest proven oil reserves. But it also means we go through ups and downs and booms and busts and that's why we Albertans have long known that we need to put the pedal to the metal on diversification and that's exactly what's happening, and that's partly why we're so excited about today's announcement," Kenney said.
Kenney's excitement felt representative of the entire room's energy, as the prospect of creating so many local jobs and strengthening the economy could be a huge win for not just Wheatland County, but all of Alberta. Kenney also pointed specifically to Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link as a key reason why the county has seen so many investment recently, with the DHC plant being by far the biggest.
"There is no municipal government anywhere in Alberta or anywhere in Canada that has been more focused on promoting and welcoming investment, job creation, growth, and diversification. They've been fantastic partners. And I just wish every municipality had a leader like Amber, that hungry for investment."
Link was also at the press conference, and like Kenney, spoke on the importance of diversifying the economy.
"In order to maintain our low taxes and sustain our service levels we need to diversify. Just like our agricultural producers cultivate their land, Wheatland County Council has been laser focused on cultivating a development landscape that is conducive to diversifying our rural economy and driving job creation," she said
Link's focus on diversifying the economy has resulted in many investments coming in, and she said she's been working very hard with the county council to make the county a desirable place for business, even if some decisions may not be agreed upon by everyone.
"It would be things like the investment tax credit that we did, and as the Premier referenced that isn't always received well, I have colleagues who have referenced that as a 'race to the bottom'. We don't see it that way, a tax incentive is not a loss of tax dollars if those tax dollars weren't coming already."
While there's no doubt that this facility is a huge win for the county, we won't be seeing it right away, as DHC owner Sherry Brydson says it will take a long time to build.
"We anticipate the full build will take somewhere between 10-15 years. We're planning on taking this slowly and seriously and we're going to make sure it works," she said.
Construction is expected to begin in 2024, with the first building being completed in 2025. During this time, Brydson's husband Rob McDonald explained DHC will still be working in Calgary while construction on the facility takes place. As the facility gets built they'll gradually move their operations to the new location.
Several other speakers, like DHC CEO Brian Chafe, Ministers Tanya Fir and Prasad Panda, and CEO of the Canadian Commercial Corporation Bobby Kwan were also present.
The excitement of these large investments leading into unprecedented growth could see Strathmore take a big step forward in a relatively short time. With 1500 jobs on the way from this facility alone, it's definitely an exciting time to live in Wheatland County.
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