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St. Thomas, Ont. attracts another major development, will sit next to Volkswagen plant

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It's a 67-acre property at the southeast corner of Highbury Avenue South and Ron McNeil Line, and it's now open for business after being snapped up by Brantford-based Vicano Construction.

St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston is glad to see Vicano’s ongoing interest in significant projects in the area.

"They're a good forward-thinking company too and we're happy to have them,” he said.

The property sits adjacent to the massive PowerCo plant which will be assembling batteries for Volkswagen electric vehicles.

"We think there's some good opportunities,” said John Whitney, CEO of Waterloo-based Whitney and Company. Whitney is working with Vicano in the effort to find tenants for the property.

“We're target marketing a lot of the suppliers that will supply the gigafactory,” he said.

Whitney said other industries not linked to the battery plant could find a home there as well, and believes that more commercial opportunities are coming for the region.

"I think St. Thomas and London, that area, I think it's wide-open for business,” he said.

Vicano has offered up two visions for the property: either a single 1.4 million sq. ft. facility, or a number of smaller complexes.

Vicano Construction promotes a 67-acre property available for commercial development near the PowerCo battery plant in St. Thomas, Ont. (Source: Vicano Construction)

Preston said the city's first dealings with Vicano were when they came forward with a proposal for the residential units that would be part of the recently constructed St. Thomas-Elgin social services building.

He added that they continue to be presence in the city, as Vicano is currently constructing made-to-suit commercial spaces on Dennis Road, a short distance from where the new build will take place.

Preston said securing the PowerCo plant was a significant moment, but there is still much more work to be done.

"It's kind of a jigsaw to make sure that make sure we're putting the right industries close that want to be here, and that Volkswagen and PowerCo want near them,” he said.

Preston said the PowerCo plant has generated a lot of interest in St. Thomas and beyond.

"This is as much regional as it is St. Thomas. Through London, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg, Woodstock, there will be more industries that come to be close to the PowerCo but don't have to be next door,” he said.

While it's estimated the completion of the PowerCo plant is still approximately two years away, Preston said the work to ensure its start-up is a success will be non-stop. 

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