Ontario’s first cross-laminated timber plant is coming to St. Thomas.

“This is one of the largest industrial investments in the last decade,” says St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation CEO Sean Dyke.

“There is $35-45 million invested this project and 50-60 jobs right off the start.”

The Ontario government brought out its heavy hitters for the announcement, which was outside the future home of the Element5 Co. mass timber plant in the north end of the city.

John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, announced an investment of almost $5 million in Element5's new facility.

“We're creating Ontarian jobs and they are new jobs,” says Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.

“We will be utilizing Ontario wood, and using rail and truck to bring the wood down here. And creating new product that is environmentally friendly.. it really is a win-win-win for all involved”.”

The $32-million manufacturing facility will help support the forestry sector's 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario.

Element5's facility will be one of North America's first fully automated cross-laminated timber plants.

It will provide an environmentally-friendly product that will be used to construct buildings and other infrastructure projects in Canada and the U.S.

“We're in a revolution in the construction industry,” says Element5 founder Patrick Chouinard.

“Buildings are being pre-fabricated in factories using wood for quick assembly on site. We're making materials to be able to build out of mass timer instead of steel.”

Element5 chose St. Thomas for a few major reasons.

They like the close proximity to major markets like Toronto and the U.S. The site on Dennis Road is fully developed and serviceable. And the rail spur right behind the factory allows ready access to Northern Ontario.

They will use the rail to sell and ship to the U.S. and eastern seaboard.

Dyke and St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston have been working hard to get this deal done, and were excited to finally make the announcement official.

“The jobs are high tech focused and involve heavy manufacturing,” adds Dyke.

“This is the kinds of jobs we want in our community…it’s the perfect investment for St. Thomas.”

Full production is expected at the plant by December of 2020.