Preparation and attitude key to attracting investment to Woodstock
Published Thursday, March 20, 2014 4:34PM EDT
The City of Woodstock is touting 2013 as the third-largest year in its history for building permits, and officials say preparation and an 'open for business' attitude has made the community attractive to investors.
Late last year Execulink Telecom closed its operations in London and built a new facility in Woodstock to house its 100 employees.
CEO Ian Stevens says "We bought land from the City of Woodstock. This is part of one of their business park and that was an easy process and they worked hard to make sure all approvals and all of the municipal consents and everything came through really easily. [They] didn't stand in our way at all."
In fact, new buildings and construction activity abound in the small city, from a 70,000 square foot project by Trans-Mit Steel to the massive $43-million Sysco food distribution centre set to open in April.
Len Magyar, Woodstock's development commissioner, explains the city has invested millions of dollars in the acquisition of land and all of the servicing.
"The lands you see behind me they're all service-ready. So basically it means somebody can come to us tomorrow, we can do a land sale and get them operating very quickly. And the bottom line is if you don't have service to shovel-ready land, you're probably going to have a very hard time attracting industry."
Last year Woodstock gave the green light to $152 million worth of construction, including $65 million in industrial development.
Among the city's selling points are sites as large as 100 acres ready to go and site plan approvals in as little as two weeks.
London, by comparison, has nothing available over 25 acres and approvals on basic construction take three to five months.
Councillor Joe Swan says red tape is driving people out of London, "We've had, in the past two years, as you know companies who were trying to locate in London, but the lack of available serviced land resulted in them going to St. Thomas and to Woodstock, and to competing communities."
Now attempting to catch up, London is applying for $80 million in government funding to develop industrial land.