SARNIA, ONT. -- In the middle of an economy battered by a global pandemic, Sarnia has secured new jobs.

CIMC Vanguard is already setting up a new Canadian factory to produce refrigerated transport-trailers.

The facility is located in a former auto-parts plant on Ube Drive.

The 300,000 sq. ft. site will be shared with a transport shipping company already operating.

Stephen Thompson, the CEO of Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, says CIMC Vanguard plans to use a local employment agency to recruit 45 employees within the next two to three months.

The remaining 45 will be hired as production grows.

As the facility is new, Thompson says positions are available in administration, assembly and skilled trades.

CIMC Vanguard, based in Indiana, is investing $5 million to reconfigure an area of the plant it will lease.

Thompson confirms the firm is also preparing a section of land, nearby, to store finished trailers.

“These are 53-foot truck-trailers that we see on the highway every day. So, the focus of this facility is to produce [2,000] refrigerated truck-trailers per year.”

Thompson is hopeful the arrival of CIMC Vanguard will offer hope to those working in sectors heavily impacted by pandemic-related job losses and interruptions.

“With downtown businesses, malls and restaurants potentially being affected, we see an investment like this as potentially creating opportunities for some of those workers that may have been impacted by other sectors.”

Thompson says the CIMC Vanguard factory has been in the works for two years.

He acknowledges the company sought out Sarnia-Lambton, and he’s pleased the pandemic has not stopped or slowed their plans to create employment for the region.