St. Marys Journal Argus
February of 2014 remains the target date for the commencement of production at the former Dana factory on James Street South, under new owners Green Arc Tire Manufacturing. Representatives for the Toronto-based company reiterated this goal in an interview with the Journal Argus late last week.
“Our goal is to be operational in February,” said communications spokesperson Danna O’Brien.
At a Committee of the Whole meeting of St. Marys Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 19, it was revealed that a job fair is in the planning stages for Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Pyramid Recreation Centre (PRC) in St. Marys. Development Manager Grant Brouwer, who's working on organizing the event along with the Stratford-based Partners in Employment organization, told councillors that preliminary plans have the job fair running from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the "two-thirds" portion of the PRC's Community Centre.
Brouwer added there is ongoing discussion about whether or not other employers will also be present at the Dec. 4 event. But Green Arc will most definitely be the highlight.
When asked last week if there may be work available in the meantime as Green Arc makes necessary changes at the former truck chassis manufacturing plant, O'Brien told the Journal Argus: “Absolutely, there’s opportunity for local trades. There will be a real need for the skills of local tradespeople to assist in retrofitting the new facility.”
The Nov. 13 announcement of Green Arc’s plans represented a huge economic morale boost for St. Marys and surrounding area, with a promise of 340 jobs in the immediate term and over 1,200 if the company is able to maximize its business plan. Prior to the announcement, company COO Mike DiCenzo told the Journal Argus he would like to see 4 million “remoulded” tires — through a process that re-uses the intact core of existing tires, and creates new sidewalls and tread — coming out of the plant annually within five years.
According to O’Brien, a job fair will be held “in the coming weeks” for people interested in the approximately 340 initial jobs — in production, logistics, administration and other fields. “Applicants will be invited to submit their resumes (at the job fair),” she said. “Stay tuned” for further details.
Sadly, southern Ontario’s economy suffered a major blow only days after the Green Arc announcement, when H.J. Heinz Co., under new ownership of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and a Brazilian hedge fund, revealed it will close its tomato processing plant in Leamington. Almost 750 jobs will be lost.
According to reporter Eric Atkins of The Globe and Mail newspaper, however, that unfortunate turn of events may also result in an increased level of employment in St. Marys — specifically, H.J. Heinz’s Richardson Foods factory, located immediately north of the soon-to-be Green Arc property on James Street South. Atkins, quoting H.J. Heinz spokesperson Michael Mullen, wrote last week that “production (from Leamington) will shift to St. Marys and U.S. plants, where a total of 479 jobs will be added.
DiCenzo, not yet aware of the H.J. Heinz announcement when asked about the potential availability of skilled workers, nonetheless seemed quite confident that Green Arc’s employment needs will easily be met.
“The community response has been incredible. Within hours after announcing that Green Arc is opening a new manufacturing facility in St. Marys, we’ve been inundated with enquiries from potential applicants,” DiCenzo told the Journal Argus the day after the Nov. 13 announcement — made at the Toronto headquarters of the Ontario Safety League, which is supporting the Green Arc business plan because it is seen as a viable way to make available lower-cost snow tires to a high percentage of Ontario’s drivers.
“We’re very excited to be providing new jobs and opportunities for people in this region and community,” the Green Arc COO added.