Chinese businesses across multiple sectors have expressed interest in leasing land within the Skeena Industrial Development Park (SIDP), a Terrace delegation has announced following a trip to the country last month.
“The promotion of this project is now picking up pace in China,” said Danielle Myles, economic development manager for the city.
So far, companies in the steel, forest productions, agriculture, aluminium, and lighting sectors have shown interest in bringing their business to Terrace, according to Myles. Companies from aluminium manufacturing, forest production, and an alfalfa protein processing plant have already visited the site. Myles said the Burnaby-based Chinese manufacturer Taisheng International, who purchased the land on behalf of the Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ), has also sent some of their staff to live in China with the sole purpose of marketing Terrace and SIDP to potential investors.
“Moving forward, we’re going to be working closely with the developer when they have really serious investors come to town,” Myles said.
In May, a five-person team from Terrace spent a week in China promoting the land’s development to businesses within QETDZ. The delegation spent two nights in Qinhuangdao, two nights in Langfang and two nights in Beijing for a number of meetings and marketing opportunities.
It cost the city about $5,000 dollars to send its five members to China. Additional costs were covered by the delegates and their hosts, a city official said.
During a conference in Qinhuangdao, Myles presented to 80 companies about Terrace and the city’s work on the industrial park. It was followed by a trip to Langfang for an international economic and trade fair, where 518 international companies listened to a promotional presentation on the project.
“Overall the trip was very busy but really productive. We really solidified some working relationships while we were over there,” Myles said.
“We have a very stable investment climate here, our political environment is very stable and all levels of government are encouraging development, and people around the world seem to be hearing that and it’s resonating with them.”
QETDZ purchased 1,187 acres of the available land at the industrial park for $11.8 million in 2014. They are the largest of the three land-holders over a total 2,400 acres. Kitselas Development Corporation owns 172 acres and 17 acres belong to Global Dewatering Ltd.
In this first phase, QETDZ is working with a budget of about $100 million to prepare its site and lay infrastructure. Roughly 790 acres of land has been cleared to date.
Road construction on Jack Talstra Way, the main entry point into the SIDP, is well underway, and designs for a water system is currently being drawn up by Allnorth Consultants. A shallow utilities contract was also awarded two weeks ago to IDL Projects Inc. to install telephone, cable TV, electric and gas services along the main road. All three developments are expected to wrap up by the end of this year, according to Richard Zhang, managing director of Taisheng International.
Once complete, there will be up to 34 lots available to lease on QETDZ’s portion of the property. Each facility built has the potential of creating between 100 to 150 new jobs, according to Myles.
Zhang said while the financing procedure is taking longer than expected, they are working to get the development back on schedule for their 2020 completion date.
“It includes quite a few small works that we have to do one by one, and it takes time,” he said.
As for other possible land-holders, Myles said there are opportunities for local businesses on the sites, providing supportive services in areas like mechanics or welding. In preparation for the major industrial development, the city has hired a consultant to conduct a transload feasibility study, looking at how businesses within the industrial park could import raw materials and export finished goods into Asian markets through the Port of Prince Rupert.
”It’s about diversifying the economy in Terrace, and the park itself is a vision for this area to become a manufacturing hub of the region,” Myles said.
DP World announced June 19 it will be expanding their Fairview Container Terminal to increase its annual capacity by 1.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) by 2022, two years after the development of SIDP lands is expected to wrap up.
The goal, said Myles, is economic stability and diversification.
“It means jobs and it means contracting opportunities to service these facilities for businesses already established here,” she said.
“It also means that when we see ups and downs in the different markets, the commodity markets and the natural resource centre… that we have other industries that can establish here to help create a bit more stability in the community.”