Two projects by a Chinese basalt mining company and a Texas sulphur dioxide manufacturer highlighted a year of achievement for the City of Timmins and the Timmins Economic Development Corporation according to information released at their annual meeting at the Dante Club in Timmins yesterday.
But several intriguing new ventures could help make the City With a Heart of Gold more diversified and less reliant on mining according to the 2015 TEDC annual report.
The TEDC is the office in the City of Timmins that helps attract new business investment for creating jobs in Timmins area.
“Staff set very ambitious goals for 2015 such as acquiring $1.95 million in funding for our various clients and projects in Timmins and region,“ said Fred Gibbons, Chair of TEDC.
“Last year they blew away that goal by securing $7.5 million dollars for clients and their projects,” Gibbons added.
The return on invest according to Gibbon on the $950,000 provided to TEDC by the municipalities and government was 7.9 times more than it received.
“In all humbleness that is a pretty good rate of return,” Gibbons said.
Christie Marinig CEO of TEDC infrastructure said the Rail Park project enabled other investment to be attracted to Timmins and area according to Marinig.
“The Rail Park in Timmins east side incorporates the Calabrian Corporation project which is building a sulphur dioxide plant to serve the Northern Ontario mining sector and other companies as well," said Marinig.
Marinig said the rail park development, a railway hub for Timmins industries, took the cooperation of agencies such as the Timmins Engineering Department, Planning Department; the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and FedNor.
“They played key roles in helping to support those clients who needed a rail link,” Marinig said.
“It was a team effort with Mayor Steve Black getting involved with lobbying,” noted Marinig.
Marinig also indicated that Timmins is becoming a centre for cold weather product testing.
“Timmins is cold and we have a perfect climate for cold weather testing,” said Marinig. “TEDC sent out packages to vehicle manufacturers and recreational equipment manufacturers, mining and forestry equipment manufacturers.”
In addition to Toyota two more companies have chosen Timmins for cold weather testing, but TEDC is not at liberty to say who they are.
According to Brenda Camirand, Director of Business Development and Retention for TEDC, the Calabrian Corporation sulphur dioxide plant is the furthest advanced project as they have started to construct a plant estimated at $30 million. $2 million dollars was awarded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund toward construction of the project.
Jiangsu Tianlong Continuous Basalt Fiber Co., Ltd. of China is the other project that will have great benefits for Timmins.
“The second investment was with Jiangsu Tianlong Continuous Basalt Fiber Co. Ltd.,” said Camirand. “They approached TEDC at the PDAC 2015 conference with a sample of the basalt rock they were looking for, and the analysis it was very similar to basalt or greenstone found in Timmins area.
Last November, Mayor Steve Black went to China to on a provincial trade mission headed by Premier Kathleen Wynne and signed a letter of intent with the Jiangsu Tianlong Continuous Basalt Fiber Co., Ltd.
Two other areas of economic activity were highlighted at the TEDC annual meeting – agriculture which contributed roughly $200 million to the local economy from 2,800 operating farms in the Region and Cold Climate Moving Making.
"Our climate is cold and so we are researching crops that would grow in this climate,” said Maggie Matear of the Community Economic Development Office. “Drainage is an issue as well as we are in the Northern clay belt and our soil absorbs a lot of water.”
Matear said 25 percent of the land is great for farming if the right crop is found, but only two percent is being used now because of drainage problems.
“In 2015 $700,000 dollars were spent to tile drain about 150 acres of land for farming,” said Matear.
Cold weather filming is another of potential economic activity according to Matear.
“Two Lovers and a Bear was filmed in Timmins last year and it is being premiered at Toronto International Film Festival this week in Toronto,” said Matear.
According to Matear, the success of the film has motivated TEDC to let film industry know that Timmins is an ideal location for wilderness shots and winter scenes because winter lasts longer in the Timmins area.
Then end result according to Fred Gibbons, TEDC Chair, was that TEDC supported the creation of 101 jobs in Timmins in 2015.