Shuttered Ford plant could become boon for St. Thomas
The Ford plant in St. Thomas, which has been idle for nearly two years, could become a food processing plant if ongoing negotiations are successful.
The last car came of the line in September 2011 putting 1,000 people out of work, but now there is word Ford is negotiating with a developer for the plant’s sale.
The developer’s plan is to turn the former auto plant into a food processing plant to tap into London’s growing agricultural sector.
And it’s a move that local businesses struggling with the loss of Ford are eager to see go forward.
Usman Arif’s family bought the St. Thomas Motel 14 years ago when business was bustling.
But now he says “It’s just been a ghost town. All you need is tumbleweeds down the road, but nothing else…If people don’t have jobs they can’t go and spend it, especially on a hotel which is a luxury.”
That could all change if the two million square foot plant is sold, bringing hundreds of temporary construction jobs and potentially over 1,000 plant jobs back to the city.
Arif says “That would be great and fill us right up and give us the customers we need. And it will be great for St. Thomas.”
Ford of Canada is reportedly in exclusive talks with a single developer, but it’s not a done deal. There are still several conditions that must be met before the plant is sold.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks could be Ford’s environmental analyses, testing results and reports on the land will have a major impact on the sale.