An official with Brightenview Development International said concerns that his firm may not be able to complete a $45-million, 680,000-square-foot facility in Blenheim are groundless.
Lorne Nystrom, Brightenview’s vice-president of public affairs and government relations, said there is no relation between the Chatham-Kent project, announced Sept. 26, and a $130-million project in Dundurn, Sask., which is 18 months behind schedule.
The Dundurn International Exhibition Centre is a planned “to provide a Canadian storefront so that distributors can purchase products for the North American market without having to travel abroad,” Nystrom said.
He said it’s a huge project that has taken longer than anticipated to put together.
“We would have preferred it to be completed, but in the real world, delays aren’t uncommon. We’d rather do it right.”
Nystrom said it is unfortunate the Blenheim development has become a political issue on social media sites, but he isn’t surprised.
“I was an MP for more than 30 years and I’m aware of what can happen in election campaigns” he said. “I can tell you that we have a significant investment in the project already, we are not seeking any government funding and we want to do business in Chatham-Kent.”
South Kent Coun. Art Stirling said the municipality is well protected in the purchase agreement for the 34-acre site, which is expected to get final approval from council Monday night.
The agreement, which can be found here, calls for a purchase price of $804,000.
“Brightenview will be required to develop the property within a year of the close of sale,” he said. “If ultimately the project didn’t go forward, the municipality has the right of first refusal to buy back the property for the sale price.”
Nystrom said there is nothing abnormal about proceeding with one project before another is completed.
He reiterated comments made earlier regarding the timing of the event so close to the municipal election.
“In the business world, you have to seize opportunity when it’s there,” he said. “We don’t get involved in the political process. The fact is the municipality has been very helpful.”
The huge building – which is being called the Global Development Centre – is hoped to eventually be home to as many as 80-100 different offshore businesses. The concept is for Brightenview, whose head office is in Saskatchewan, to build the structure and supply support for offshore small- and medium-sized businesses to the point that all they need to do is bring their manufacturing knowledge with them and they’ll be able to begin operations.
“It’s almost a condominium kind of thing,” said Chatham Kent Economic Development Director Michael Burton. “It will be for companies abroad to come in and establish operations. The businesses can bring their technology, set up shop and 30,000 sq. ft. of support services will take care of everything else.”
The centre will have 400,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, 250,000 sq. ft. of shared warehousing, and 30,000 sq. ft. of office space that Brightenview will use to provide support to companies to deal with various levels of government, as well as providing numerous other areas of operational assistance.