Xinyi Canada Glass, the Chinese glass maker that’s been attempting to build a manufacturing facility in Ontario since 2018, has chosen Stratford, local officials say.
Stratford’s economic development corporation, investStratford, confirmed Thursday afternoon that a potential $400-million development that would bring approximately 320 jobs is being considered in the city’s southwest corner near Wright Business Park.
Joani Gerber, investStratford’s chief executive, said it’s a significant economic development opportunity and a potential “good news story” for the community with “an awful lot of positive economic impact.”
“This was a long and arduous search by the company,” she said. “They were very interested in a number of locations throughout the province and they’ve decided that Stratford is their preferred site.”
With interest from Xinyi firmed up, Mayor Dan Mathieson said the city is prepared to begin working on a development agreement.
“The potential opportunity, I think, is a strong one for a number of reasons,” he said, citing the diversification of the city’s economic base away from its traditional industries, more frequent use of a local rail line, and the expansion of the city’s industrial park. “I’m very much supportive of it. I would just say the employment opportunities will be important as well as we see changes in the economy.”
Those opportunities could include potential spinoffs, Gerber added.
“With an investment of this size, there’s also spinoff companies that will locate here as a result of that, whether that be supply chain or … secondary-use manufacturing, those kinds of things,” she said.
Xinyi is known for supplying glass to the auto parts sector, but this plant would make “float glass” for the building sector.
Although Stratford is the company’s preferred location now, it wasn’t their first choice.
Xinyi made a bid to purchase land for its Ontario plant in Guelph-Eramosa Township, between Guelph and Cambridge, in 2018, but the project was turned down by the town’s council due to its high water use and the fact the community is on a well system.
Potential water use is part of the due diligence on the development city officials have already done, Mathieson said, adding the comparison between the water system in Stratford and the one in Guelph-Eramosa is like comparing “apples and oranges.”
“(Xinyi is), yes, a high water user,” he said. “They’re also reclaiming a large amount of the water to reuse in their processes, which I think is important. Stratford has capacity within our existing water reserves and, according to our Ministry of the Environment-approved water permit, we feel confident it represents prudent use of those resources.”
Stratford has also pursued agreements with neighbouring municipalities this year to create the space it needs for the facility, including boundary adjustments in February with Perth County and the Township of Perth South. After the adjustments were approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in July, Stratford annexed three parcels of privately owned farmland along Highway 7 and Line 29 in August that created about 130 hectares of industrial land near Wright Business Park.
In exchange for allowing Stratford to extend its boundaries around property that could be added to its supply of serviceable industrial land, Perth South will receive a portion of the property taxes it generates if its rezoned and developed.
Potential developments for the annexed land other than Xinyi’s facility are being pursued, according to investStratford’s press release.
Xinyi committed to opening its first North American facility in Ontario following a 2017 trade mission from the Ontario government.
Xinyi Glass Holdings, the parent company of Xinyi Canada Glass, was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Hong Kong.
The company’s plants make about 2,500 tonnes of glass daily for the automobile and construction markets.