OPINION: Lightning strikes C-K

The former Crown Cork & Seal facility at 125 Irwin St. in Chatham will be the new home for Formet Industries, a subsidiary of Magna, and will produce battery enclosures for the new Ford F150 Lightning electric vehicle.

One hundred and fifty good-paying factory jobs.

That’s what is coming to Chatham…for starters…in connection with the rapid expansion of production of electric vehicles.

Magna Industries announced recently it is out of space to expand production at its Formet Industries facility in St. Thomas, and found a perfect location in Chatham on Irwin Street.

When fully operational, the local factory will produce about 120,000 battery enclosures a year, all earmarked to head to Dearborn, Mich. to be installed in the Ford F150 Lighting electric pickup.

That production will deliver those 150 jobs, with starting wages of nearly $23 per hour for assembly folks, and $39 an hour for skilled trades personnel.

That is a nice shot in the arm for Chatham-Kent, as that will spark growth due to the disposable income possibilities and trickle-down effect.

Yes, some of these jobs will come from people working at existing facilities here as they seek higher wages. But that will in turn create additional openings for employment.

That’s just the start, the tip of the electric plug, so to speak. Formet’s general manager, Phil Page, anticipates they will utilize local producers to provide required parts for the enclosures, which house high-voltage batteries, electrical components, sensors and connectors, contributing to the structural and safety aspects of a vehicle’s frame and protecting critical components from potential impact, heat and water.

So, there should be spin-off industrial benefits in Chatham-Kent.

On top of that, Mayor Darrin Canniff and economic development personnel expect our location will be prime to supply parts to support the $5-billion Stellantis battery plant coming to Windsor.

In other words, charging the electric vehicle industry, as automakers are in the process of doing, should be very good business for Chatham-Kent.

Our population is on the rise, and this should only add to the increase, as well as the addition of better-paying work for existing residents.

Economic development officials welcome new development, of course, but especially when it comes in manageable sizes. We can all remember the economic damage that lingered in the wake of the closure of Navistar. Having a plant that once employed more than 1,000 people shut down hurt the entire community.

Diversification minimizes such blows, should they occur.



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