Industrial parks drive the Metro economy

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Excerpt from Moncton Times & Transcript, May 21, 2007 by Aloma Jardine:

Metro Moncton's industrial parks don't have as much flash as the city's main streets, they don't have the draw of a Champlain Place or a Wheeler Park Power Centre, and most local residents would likely be hard pressed to name more than a few of the businesses that call them home.

But the parks are the quiet workhorses of the local economy. Between Caledonia Industrial Estates, the Dieppe Industrial Park, and the Moncton Industrial Park, there are close to 500 companies employing thousands and thousands of people.

"Unless you have a reason to go into any one of the parks, you aren't necessarily aware of what is there," says Peter Belliveau, general manger of Moncton Industrial Development, which owns and operates Moncton's two industrial parks. "The businesses in our parks range from two employees up to 1,000 employees. Just about everything is there."

If you haven't taken a tour through the local industrial parks lately, you may hardly recognize them.

They have seen some amazing growth in the past few years, so much so, that where possible, new lands are being opened up for development.

"The Moncton Industrial Park is pretty much full. Actually we only have six acres remaining," Belliveau says. "In Caldeonia we have a couple of hundred acres available right now in the service area, but we have room to grow. We are in the midst of an infrastructure expansion and will add another 110 acres, build some new streets and services to increase that supply. We're in pretty good position for the next while once that is completed."

On top of that Belliveau says they own at least another 300 acres for future expansion.

The key is always staying ahead of the curve.

"You have to have available inventory for when the opportunity is there," Belliveau says. "When someone shows up at your door looking for land, if you can't do it in a short time span, they won't say 'I'll come back in a year or two when you are ready.' It is one of the Catch-22s of development - you have to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise."

Belliveau says the greatest growth in recent years in the Moncton parks has come in transportation, distribution, and manufacturing, but he says they don't focus on any one industry.

"We'd pretty much welcome whoever would like to come as long as they are not a big, heavy smoke stack industry," he says.

Belliveau says this area has a long history with industrial parks, going back more than 50 years, and he is not expecting their popularity to diminish any time soon.

"One of the huge things that will drive industrial parks in coming years will be environmental concerns," he says. "A properly built industrial park can concentrate industry in areas where they can be managed properly so it doesn't impact on neighourhoods, where helter skelter development would."

There is also the convenience for businesses looking to settle in. Instead of searching for land and trying to get the proper zoning and services, a business can find everything is needs in an industrial park.

"You walk into my office and I can offer you a variety of sites," Belliveau says. "Two weeks later you can be digging ground."