Calling it the “resurgence of manufacturing in Owen Sound,” the head of Bruce Power announced Thursday that two companies will be setting up shop in the city to manufacture and assemble components for the nuclear generator’s multi-billion-dollar life-extension program.
Mike Rencheck, president and CEO, said BWXT Canada Ltd. and Brotech Precision CNC will both operate within the remaining section of the former PPG glass-making plant, now Andpet Realty’s Peninsula Pro Growth Business Park.
The companies are planning to hire and employ at least 53 people, combined, once fully operational.
“For 10 years, this building sat idle in this condition and we find ourselves able today to fill it, not only with manufacturing, but with good-paying jobs that will be here for the long term,” Rencheck said during the announcement, held inside the building in Owen Sound’s industrial park.
BWXT, a long-time Bruce Power supplier, is planning to manufacture nuclear components in a 66,000-square-foot section of the 265,000-square-foot business park at 1875 16th Ave. E. Brotech will operate out of an adjacent, 10,000-square-foot facility.
Andpet’s Peter Van Dolder said the Canadian Bioceutical Corp., which is awaiting a Health Canada licence to produce medical-grade marijuana, is leasing about 90,000 square feet of space at the north end of the building.
John MacQuarrie, president of BWXT, said the Cambridge-based company will spend between $1 and $2 million to bring electricity, install a compressor, undertake interior renovations and complete other work to create their manufacturing facility.
“We expect to be operational by November and we’ll be welcoming about 50 staff here once we’re ready to go. So we’re looking forward to starting to advertise in the community for individuals that might be interested in working with us,” he said.
Steel work at the facility will require welders, fitters and inspection personnel as well as assembly workers, he said.
Brotech will begin its Owen Sound operation by assembling and testing shield plug assemblies for Bruce Power’s upcoming major component replacement project. The company recently inked a 10-year deal with Bruce Power to supply the critical reactor components.
Jerome Horowitz, Brotech’s vice-president and partner, said the Barrie-based company’s “ultimate aim” is to build out a full-service computer numerical control (CNC) machining shop at its Owen Sound location to service Bruce Power.
He said the company will start off by employing about four people in Owen Sound in the first year, but that number is expected to eventually grow to 10 to 15.
“This facility will be ready in a few months for us,” he said.
Rencheck said both companies have contracts that require delivery of parts to Bruce Power starting in late 2019, early 2020.
“And then it’ll continue. Brotech’s contract will go to the end of the decade and BWXT has contracts with us that extend for the full term of the life-extension program, so they’re quite long contracts,” he said.
“That enables the investment like this because when they have a long contract like that, they can afford to make an investment and ensure a return on their investment. And, while that’s being done, it provides a good service in the community so they can service other businesses, they can look to export now elsewhere in Canada or outside the country.”
MacQuarrie and Horowitz both said their companies are expanding into Owen Sound as a direct result of Bruce Power’s life-extension program, which began in 2016, will continue until 2053 and will allow Bruce Power’s units to safely operate through to 2064.
A key part of the program is the 16-year major component replacement project, which will extend the life of Units 3 to 8.
Bruce Power says it encourages its major suppliers to be located in the “tri-county area” near its Tiverton site, which includes Grey, Bruce and Huron counties.
The nuclear generator and Bruce County launched, in response to the life-extension project, a regional economic development initiative in 2016 that is aimed at facilitating the expansion of Bruce Power suppliers into Bruce, Grey and Huron.
MacQuarrie and Horowitz said the condition of the former PPG plant, the size of the local workforce, support of city and area politicians and the business community and presence of Georgian College all factored into their decision to open a facility in Owen Sound.
Horowitz said about half of the company’s 50 employees have come through a Georgian College program or apprenticeship.
BWXT, meanwhile, announced at the event that it is developing a bursary program with the college’s Owen Sound campus.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller, MPP Bill Walker, Grey County Warden Stewart Halliday and Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy also spoke at the event.
“After a few years of sitting idle, it’ll be great to see this building back in use and the parking lot full again,” Boddy said.
“It took the vision and some patience of Peter Van Dolder and his partners to take on this building, get it back into shape and ready to the next era of glory.”