By the BF Staff
From May/June 2019 Issue
Sturgeon County is a rapidly growing, diverse community located in the northern portion of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Residents enjoy rural lifestyles while reaping the benefits of belonging to the second fastest growing region in Canada. Sturgeon County offers modern road, rail, air and internet infrastructure that connects to the region and international hubs. Sturgeon County is just 40 minutes from Edmonton International Airport (EIA), the fifth busiest airport in Canada, with over 8.2 million passengers in 2018.
Businesses that choose to locate in Sturgeon County have access to the market and talent of the Edmonton Metro Region. Edmonton has a regional population of 1.3 million people, with over 725,000 jobs and a highly-skilled, mobile labor force. There are provincial and federal investment supports, and the newly elected provincial government has pledged to lower corporate tax rates (already some of the lowest in the country) to 8 percent to further stimulate the economy. Owing to its large size, Sturgeon County has 22,000 acres available for industrial development and over 480,000 acres of total farm area. Sturgeon County’s primary medium industrial district, Sturgeon Industrial Park (SIP) provides for a broad range of uses on fully serviced parcels that include water/waste water, high/low pressure gas, paved roads and rail infrastructure. Many areas in SIP have extremely low, competitive off-site levies to encourage development.
Alberta, the home of the Canadian Oil and Gas industry, saw its economy weaken as global prices for oil and gas declined in late 2014/early 2015. Though oil and gas prices have increased, the upstream oil and gas industry in Alberta continues to struggle; throughout these challenges, Sturgeon County has continued to grow. Low prices for oil and gas mean big opportunity for downstream energy and petrochemical companies that use oil and gas as feedstocks. Due to its proximity and connectivity to some of the lowest cost hydrocarbon feedstock in the world, Sturgeon County is an ideal location to construct a petrochemical, oil refining or partial upgrading facility. Abundant, cost-advantaged feedstocks can be sourced from prolific liquids-rich gas formations such as the Montney or Duvernay, or from Alberta’s vast oils and deposits. Oil and gas are transported to the Edmonton region via pipeline where they are further developed into value-added products.
Sturgeon County prospers through partnership and collaboration. They are a member of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association (AIHA), and Edmonton Global, the first fully regional economic development company for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Edmonton, home to 1/3 of Canada’s Army, also lies within its borders. CFB Edmonton is the headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Division Support Group (3 CDSG), the highest Army authority in western Canada. Sturgeon County is proud of its special relationship with CFB Edmonton. Nearly half of the regular force members and civilian employees call Sturgeon County home.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONNECTIVITY
Pre-zoned Heavy Industrial areas in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland and world-class transportation and logistics infrastructure allow investors and developers to advance projects quickly and move products to market. Sturgeon County is connected in multiple locations to the 19,900-mile Canadian National (CN) Railway network, which spans Canada and mid-America, connecting North America to global markets on three coasts. Sturgeon County businesses enjoy direct access via the CN network to ports in Vancouver, Prince Rupert, the U.S. Gulf Coast as well as markets in the U.S. Mid-West, Central and Eastern Canada/U.S. CN is the only Class I railroad with access to the Port of Prince Rupert, the closest North American deep-sea port to Asia. Shipping volumes at the port have climbed 600 percent since 2006, and the port is undergoing a major expansion.
Sturgeon County also is home to the Villeneuve Airport (ZVL), which is owned and operated by Edmonton International Airport (EIA). The total economic output of ZVL is nearly $62 million with 235 direct and indirect jobs. Villeneuve Airport also hosts the Edmonton Airshow, with more than 40,000 anticipated attendees on August 17 and 18, 2019. EIA is currently updating the Strategic Plan for Villeneuve Airport, with completion anticipated in summer, 2019.
In April 2019, TELUS Corporation announced a $100 million (CDN) investment to directly connect more than 90 percent of homes and businesses in the nearby City of St. Albert, and neighboring communities in Sturgeon County to its fiber optic network. Construction will begin in June 2019, with completion planned for 2020. This new fiber optic infrastructure will be the backbone of TELUS’ wireless network, enabling more capacity and faster speeds throughout the region, and lays the groundwork for 5G technologies in the years ahead. This new connectivity will help boost the local economy by encouraging new or continued investment and will enable businesses to thrive whether they’re established operations or new home-based start-ups.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES AND KEY STRENGTHS
Sturgeon County provides an ideal environment for entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations to locate and grow. Whether you’re operating a home-based business, or contemplating your company’s next global expansion, Sturgeon County Economic Development will help you “Start in Sturgeon.”
Sturgeon County is home to successful companies involved in the Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Petrochemical, Transportation and Logistics industries. Manufacturing businesses in Sturgeon County are closely linked with other key sectors such as hydrocarbon processing and agriculture. Demand for specialty manufactured metal products such as valves, pressure vessels and other components required for major hydrocarbon processing projects has driven strong growth in the metal fabrication, modular construction and machinery manufacturing sub-sectors.
Many global companies have chosen to invest in Sturgeon County. Evonik Canada, a subsidiary of Evonik Industries AG of Essen Germany, operates a 90,000 tonne/year Hydrogen Peroxide facility near Gibbons, Alberta. Hydrogen Peroxide from the Gibbons facility is primarily used in the Pulp and Paper industry. Evonik is one of the largest specialty chemicals companies in the world.
Agriculture is a key part of its identity and the top land use in Sturgeon County. There is a long and proud history of farming and agriculture that dates back well over a century. Sturgeon County has experienced extensive growth in agricultural processing capacity within the alfalfa, oats and cereals, and grain handling market segments. Based on current infrastructure and planned investment, Sturgeon County has the potential to boost total primary grain handling capacity to nearly one million metric tonnes annually. Major agriculture and agribusiness investors in the area include Bunge Canada (a subsidiary of U.S.-based agribusiness giant Bunge Limited), Canadian Oats Milling and G3 Canada. Canadian Oats, which processes nearly 36,000 tonnes of oats per year in Sturgeon County, is part of Mexican-based agribusiness and food processing company Grupo Vida. The G3 Canada joint venture includes Bunge Canada and the Canadian subsidiary of Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC). G3 recently announced the construction of a new primary elevator in Sturgeon County. This new $40 million CAD facility is designed for speed and efficiency. It will be able to unload trucks in less than five minutes, load 150-car trains under continuous motion on a loop track system and move grain on the CN rail system to G3 Terminal Vancouver, a next-generation grain export facility.
Sturgeon County is a proud and founding member of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association (AIHA) and Edmonton Global. Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region. The Heartland has a geographic footprint of 582 square kilometers (360 square miles) and has seen over $40 billion CAD of investment. County lands within the Heartland have been pre-zoned to accelerate development of this important industry within Sturgeon’s borders.
The Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) offers a long-term, structural feedstock advantage for Heartland-based petrochemical, refining and chemicals manufacturing companies. Many large-scale downstream energy and petrochemical operations call Sturgeon County home. The North West Redwater (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery is in the final stages of commissioning Phase 1 of an 80,000 barrel/day refinery that will produce Ultra-Low-Sulphur-Diesel (ULSD) and Naphtha. Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation, along with Kuwait-based Petrochemical Industries Company K.S.C. (PIC), recently announced a positive final investment decision to construct a 550,000 tonne per annum integrated propane dehydrogenation plant and polypropylene (PDH-PP) upgrading facility in Sturgeon County through their joint venture entity, Canada Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation (CKPC).
This $4.5 billion CAD project will source propane feedstock directly from Pembina’s Redwater Fractionation Site (RFS), the largest natural gas fractionation complex in Canada. RFS lies immediately adjacent to the CKPC construction site, has 18 underground storage caverns and an aggregate capacity of ~210,000 barrels/day.
TARGET INDUSTRIES AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
Sturgeon County continues to see significant investment in agricultural, petrochemical and refined-energy projects within its borders. World-scale quantities, and access to global markets through modern transportation and logistics infrastructure, are allowing the county to advance economic diversification and supply-chain modernization initiatives in multiple industries. The largest opportunities are in the agribusiness, food processing, petrochemical, plastics manufacturing/conversion industries. Companies in these industries seeking their next location need look no further than Sturgeon County. Proximity to end-user markets, labor availability and ease of development all play a role when selecting your next corporate location. For companies looking to move finished goods by air or rail, Sturgeon County offers exciting possibilities—especially for those looking to move products to booming markets in Asia and other emerging market economies. CN Rail provides access to ocean ports off Canada’s West coast at two locations, the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. CN system infrastructure upgrades and the Prince Rupert expansion ensure you can get products to global markets for years to come. CN also provides unparalleled access to the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast via Chicago.
Companies preferring to ship products by air have access to a full-service cargo airport at EIA, which provides specialized facilities capable of handling the largest cargo aircraft in the world. Worldwide air cargo service is provided via 10 non-stop freighter routes and connections within the Port Alberta Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). Edmonton is an international transportation hub with road connections to and from anywhere in western Canada within 24 hours. EIA has had seven consecutive years of cargo volume growth. Canada is a party to the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). These trade agreements allow Canadian companies unfettered access to nearly 1.5 billion consumers.
Second only to transportation proximity, labor availability is perhaps the most important site selection criteria for industrial users right now. While many jurisdictions are experiencing extremely tight labor conditions, the downturn in the Alberta economy has lowered local salary and wage expectations for both skilled and unskilled labor. Knowing that global competition for top talent is hypercompetitive, the Government of Canada has launched a fast-track visa program for highly-skilled labor which aims to shorten the work permit and visa issuing process to two weeks.
In addition to opportunities in agribusiness, food processing, plastics manufacturing and chemical conversion, Sturgeon County also is seeking investment in specialty sectors which cater to its strengths in agriculture or look to take advantage of its proximity to CFB Edmonton. These unique characteristics are allowing Sturgeon to target investment from industries not traditionally seen in the County such as cannabis/ industrial hemp and defense.
Site Selectors and investors looking for more information on development opportunities in Sturgeon County, Alberta, Canada are encouraged to visit www.startinsturgeon.ca, or contact Tyler Westover, Manager of Sturgeon County Economic Development.