DEVELOPMENT BOOMING IN FORT ERIE
FORT ERIE, December 30, 2002 - Fort Erie is finishing up what is likely a record-setting year for new business developments.
And in 2003, the region´s fourth largest municipality could see as many or more gains across all sectors says Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation.
"It´s been a fabulous year for Fort Erie," Thibert said in an interview. "When you look at the amount of expansion that has taken place - commercial and industrial - it has been something else."
During the little more than a year Thibert has been at the helm, the EDTC has gone through a period of restructuring.
However, that hasn´t stopped the agency from carrying out its primary goals of assisting with new business start ups or helping existing business to expand or relocate, he said.
The past year has been highlighted by more than a dozen large scale, multi-million dollar projects either announced, begun or completed.
There´s more to come next year.
" We´re privy to some information on a number of companies that are planning some expansion, (and) some companies that are coming in.
" As long as we keep the momentum going, other people will be interested in Fort Erie and they’ll come along as well," Thibert said.
The list of new developments and expansions in 2002 included:
• a $15-million expansion at Rich Products, which will create an additional 40 jobs when complete;
• completion of the $6-million Fort Erie Truck and Travel Plaza located on Pettit Road near Gilmore Road and the Queen Elizabeth Way;
• construction of the $2-million Aero-Safe Processing, a stand-alone expansion of Aero-Safe Technologies;
• the opening of Zooz, fort Erie´s newest tourist attraction;
• the construction of Wal-Mart and No Frills outlets, as well as a number of other retail developments and expansions along the Garrison Road
Also in 2002, the former Horton CBI plant was sold. Plans are in the works for a significant development on the site, although Thibert said he can´t reveal what those plans are just yet.
Nor will he reveal details about several other prospects looming on the horizon.
" We’re working with a number of companies in Fort Erie that are looking to expand," Thibert said.
" We have about five on the table already."
The news hasn´t been all good.
The past couple of years have seen some losses, with some notable layoffs in the industrial sector.
But unlike many mid-size, one-company towns, in Ontario Thibert explained.
Fort Erie benefits from a mixed economy, with industries ranging from high-tech aerospace firms to tourism-based businesses. If one sector is having a sluggish year, there´s usually still jobs and growth in the other areas that help cushion the blow.
" Fort Erie´s major strength is its economy is the diversification of it´s industry," Thibert said. "We can sustain the ups and downs of the economic cycles better."
The Review, December 30, 2002