Bib was in attendance for Michelin's signing of the transition assistance agreement with the Canadian Forces Nov. 27. A.Thompson
By Kirk Starratt
There are no guarantees, but if Michelin decides to invest in Waterville like it has in its sister plant in South Carolina, it could be one of the biggest economic development events in Kings County history.
A news conference, held Aug. 14 at the County of Kings municipal complex in Kentville, announced that county council has formally committed to divesting the municipal airport property in Waterville to facilitate a possible expansion by tire making giant Michelin.
The municipally-owned Waterville airport property is about 94 acres in total and houses both the airport and the Valley Search and Rescue building.
Chief Administrative Officer Tom MacEwan said it’s the western portion of the property, about 23 acres, that Michelin has expressed interest in.
When asked if the potential investment by Michelin and the airport move could represent one of the biggest economic development events in Kings County history, MacEwan pointed to Waterville’s sister plant in South Carolina as a comparison. Michelin recently invested $500 million there and the product line is the same as Michelin Waterville’s.
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“The plant in South Carolina has no ability to expand further, and this one does,” MacEwan said. “So, if the product line is going to be expanded in North America, the site is here.”
MacEwan said he is not aware of any other $500 million project ever coming into Kings County.
Warden Diana Brothers said if Michelin were to expand and invest an addition $500 million in Waterville, the positive economic impact would be like having the company move here “all over again.”
However, Michelin has yet to officially announce any expansion for the Waterville plant.
“Michelin is continuously exploring opportunities to grow and strengthen our business; at this time, we have nothing to announce,” Michelin North America senior public relations manager Brian Remsberg said in an email Aug. 14.
In June, Michelin Canada communications director Deborah Carty said in an email there are no plans for expansion at the Waterville Michelin facility at this time. However, “the recommendations put forward in the government’s study (Waterville Municipal Airport Relocation Study) do allow us flexibility for the future should the need arise.”