Chatham-Kent businesses appreciate the skilled work force, the ease of access to Canadian and U.S. markets, the low business operating costs, and the wide range of greenfield and existing businesses. Chatham-Kent is proud to be home to a number of internationally recognized companies including GreenField Ethanol, MSSC, KSR International, Autoliv, Woodbridge Foam, and Martinrea Fabco. Chatham-Kent is also the site for the head offices of Pioneer Hi-Bred (a Dupont company) and Union Gas (a Spectra Energy company).
Manufacturing is another significant component in Chatham-Kent's economy. An estimated 11,700 jobs or 21 percent of the labor force is employed in the area's manufacturing and construction industries.
At Transportation Crossroads
Chatham-Kent is a community of 108,000 located in the heart of southwestern Ontario just minutes from the Windsor/Detroit border. There are three major U.S. border crossings and three international airports within a one-hour drive. A local municipal airport that accommodates corporate aircraft also serves the community. And work force availability is never a problem, with more than one million Canadians living within one-hour of Chatham-Kent's borders.
Realizing how important logistics are in today's economy and the importance of being close to customers, businesses can also take advantage of the community's road and rail connections. Chatham-Kent is divided by Highway 401, which connects all major provincial and U.S. interstates and highways. The trunk lines of three major railways - CN, CP, and CSX - further augment Chatham-Kent's transportation system.
Leader in Innovative Technologies
Agriculture continues to play a significant role in Chatham-Kent's economy. In 2009, its 2,196 farms grossed over $406 million. A reported 75 percent of Chatham-Kent's farms produce grains and oilseeds. Chatham-Kent is also Canada's largest producer of seed corn, tomatoes, and sugar beets.
Its rich agricultural sector is enhanced by the research and support of the University of Guelph's Ridgetown campus, which will serve as a center of excellence for on-farm renewable energy technologies. Chatham-Kent is positioned as a "leader" within the province of Ontario's green energy strategy and was awarded with the 2009 Leadership Award by the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
The Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy & Sustainability (CARES) was officially opened in 2009 at the University of Guelph's Ridgetown campus and marks a significant turning point for the community's agricultural sector. The first of its kind in Canada, CARES is a research and demonstration facility that will test new technologies and further develop them for readiness of on-farm applications. Essentially, it will bring renewable energy to the farm gate.
Chatham-Kent is home to Greenfield Ethanol, the largest supplier of ethanol, industrial fuel, and beverage grade alcohols in Canada. Greenfield Ethanol recently opened a state-of-the-art research and development center in Chatham, which is looking at the next generation of cellulosic ethanol.
Chatham-Kent has also identified biodiesel production as an emerging opportunity, as a result of the region's abundant soybean supply. Biodiesel fuel is renewable, biodegradable, non-toxic, and sulphur-free. In a partnership with the University of Guelph's Ridgetown campus through the CARES group, a small biodiesel plant built at the Ridgetown campus is now operational. The purpose of this facility is to test the technology to make it available for on-farm applications.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent was one of the founding members of the Southwestern Ontario Bioproducts Innovation Network (SOBIN), which works to strengthen agriculture by fostering the creation of new value-added markets for agricultural products; to enhance the chemical industry by helping to generate new cost-effective sources of feedstock for eco-friendly chemical product; and to advance the automotive industry by introducing effective new bioproduct materials.
Wind projects are another growing opportunity for the rural sector. Kruger Energy's 101-megawatt Port Alma project was completed and became fully operational in 2008. Gengrowth/Boralex has four Chatham-Kent projects under construction, which are scheduled to be fully operational early this year. Several other wind and solar energy facilities are in various stages of development.
Educational Resources and IT
Chatham-Kent is home to St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology, Thames campus, which seeks to meet the educational needs of students and the training needs of business and industry. A range of post-secondary, post-diploma, apprenticeships, continuous learning, and contract training programs and services are available in the areas of technology and trades, health, community services, adult education, applied arts, and business.
The community is located within easy commuting distances of the University of Windsor, the University of Western Ontario, Fanshawe College (London), St. Clair College (Windsor), Lambton College (Sarnia), and the University of Detroit and Wayne State University (Michigan).
Contact centers in Chatham-Kent benefit from a rich supply of available workers. Industry leaders such as Aditya Birla Minacs, YA Canada, TransCom, and SelectCore employ approximately 2.7 percent of Chatham-Kent's work force.
Chatham-Kent Utility Services (CKUS) has broken ground on a new certified "Green" Data Centre to provide information technology (IT) services, products, and training to local businesses. The $2.5 million project is expected to be up and running by summer. This will be the first LEED certified, publicly available data center in Canada.
Exceptional Quality of Life
There are dozens of vibrant commercial districts throughout Chatham-Kent boasting numerous downtown shopping destinations.
And you can explore the Thames River where Tecumseh battled near Chatham and Dresden. Find the home of the Dash Wheel, drive in the Classic Car Capital of Canada, and join the fun at the Wallaceburg Antique, Motor & Boat Outing. Find prized birding along many of the community's shorelines and provincial parks or follow the North Star on an African-Canadian Heritage Tour.
Within two years, Chatham-Kent's quality of life will be further enhanced with the completion of three major capital investments in culture, recreation, and education. Chatham-Kent residents will have a new YMCA, a major venue for live performances with the Capitol Theatre, and a state-of-the-art recreation and fitness facility at St. Clair College's Thames campus. These three projects represent investment exceeding $40 million to ensure the community continues to be a model for progress, sustainability, and future growth.
Chatham-Kent Economic Development Services provides the area's businesses confidential assistance with available site and building information, community briefings and tours, statistics, research, grant writing, and customized information packages.