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The Acheson Advantage

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March 08, 2019
Source: Business in Edmonton

Five kilometres west of Edmonton sits one of the region’s most active hubs – Acheson Industrial Area. With more than 10,600 acres positioned to take advantage of all the major arteries (Highway 60, Highway 16, Highway 16A, and a CN rail line), along with no additional business taxes, it’s no secret why some of the largest and well-known industrial and manufacturing brands call Acheson home.

It’s not just Acheson that is thriving. The activity and growth in the area are influencing several major building and infrastructure projects in the region.

Brad Hoffman, executive vice president western Canada, Panattoni Development Company, lists the projects Panattoni is developing in Acheson:
  • Northview Business Park, 120-acre industrial subdivision
  • Southview Business Park, 120-acre industrial subdivision
  • Highlands Business Park, 312-acre industrial subdivision
  • Navistar International’s build-to-suit for lease, a 160,000 square foot facility on 10 acres
  • PTI/Civeo Group’s 72,000 square foot build-to-suit for lease on 40 acres
  • Suncor Energy’s 110,000 square foot redevelopment for lease on 20 acres
  • Impact Auto’s 12,000 square foot build-to-suit for lease on 52 acres
“Often companies like ours are considered ‘best in class’ for the projects we develop,” says Hoffman. “Parkland County is truly class-leading with their pro-business and development friendly policies that allow us to maintain our best-in-class service to our clients who locate into Acheson for new build-to-suit lease facilities and/or as purchasers of our lots.”

Hoffman continues, “The Acheson advantage is multi-dimensional.  Acheson provides us an operating environment with less municipal red-tape compared to many regions in Western Canada; and Acheson has consistently maintained a cost advantage in the market with lower costs for serviced land and lower property taxes compared to other locations in the Edmonton region.”

In 2018, Parkland County issued more than 950 development and building permits with construction values exceeding $180 million dollars.

More than 20 ground breaking ceremonies were held, including Finning Used Equipment Supercentre, Western Archives & Shredding, Trailcon Leasing Inc., and Somerville’s new western Canadian head office.

Sommerville, who has more than 60 years of oil and gas pipeline experience around the world, has a corporate head office in Ontario. The decision to build a new 25,000 square foot integrated office, shop, warehouse and yard in Acheson will, “maintain and support [their] continued expansion of services in Western Canada.”

Meanwhile, Champion Petfoods is on track for its grand opening. The multimillion-dollar project will add around 200 more jobs to the area.

Frank Burdzy, president and CEO, noted in an earlier Business in Edmonton interview of Champion Petfoods, “We chose Parkland County as the location for our new kitchens because of their business-friendly focus and strong agricultural community. The location fits not only the technical requirements of a state-of-the-art kitchen, but it will also be a great home for [our brands] ACANA and ORIJEN.”

While some brands are breaking ground on new builds, others are expanding their existing footprint.

Expansions include North American Construction Group, SMS Equipment, Fraser Brothers Roofing and Frac Shack.

Frac Shack is in a continual North American expansion. In addition to their growth in Acheson, Frac Shack recently opened a location in Calgary. But Frac Shack is not the only company in Acheson that grew on site and in satellite locations. In 2018, SMS Equipment was pleased to take possession of a 6,500 square foot facility in Hinton, AB.

The future of Acheson Industrial Area is further secured by two major infrastructure projects.

The announcement that the Government of Alberta is twinning Highway 60 between Highway 16 and 16A, building an overpass over the CN rail track, and realigning the Highway 16A interchange is very positive news for Acheson.

“Highway 60 is an important economic corridor in the region. Improvements to this vital route will help industry move oversize and overweight loads to the north and northwest corners of the province and support economic growth in the Edmonton region,” said Premier Rachel Notley in a press release.

“Twinning Highway 60 between Highways 16 and 16A will mean a safer, smoother drive for thousands of motorists who use that stretch of highway each day. These and other changes will save time, support economic development and help everyone get to their destination safely,” added Minister of Transportation Brian Mason.

For Acheson, the Highway 60 project and overpass mean attracting more investors, more new businesses, eliminating delays and reducing congestion along the transportation and trade corridor.

Safety is a big factor in the Highway 60 project. With roughly 15,000 vehicles per day, 25 per cent of which are tractor trucks, the road can get congested quickly. With the expansion to four lanes at the interchange, and the overpass at the rails to keep traffic moving as around 50 trains run on the main line per day, commuters and transport drivers can expect a faster, safer route.

“Highway 60 is also a new component of the High Load Corridor that supports the movement of oversize and overweight vehicles and connects them to the provincial highway network,” notes the Government of Alberta press release.

Another major project, the Highway 628 reconstruction, brings further good news for the industrial area.

Highway 628 is a very important commuter route for those living, working and enjoying recreation in Edmonton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Parkland County. As the city and its suburbs grow, traffic volume on this route is approaching 5,000+ vehicles per day. With residential and industrial development continuing in the area, this highway project is necessary to relieve congestion and improve safety.

This is a massive project that will span several years. Land purchase and utility relocation begin this year. The construction phase could start as early as 2021. Construction is expected to take between four and six years and support an additional 350 jobs.

Minister Mason noted, “Safety for all the people who use our roads is my number 1 priority. As these communities continue to grow, it’s important that our transportation infrastructure keeps pace. The Highway 628 project will improve safety and reduce commute times and congestion as people make their way to visit family or friends, go to medical appointments or do their grocery shopping.”

Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec, is also concerned about safety. “We are thrilled and encouraged by the announcement of the highly anticipated reconstruction of Highway 628. This realignment and reconstruction will not only help improve traffic flow along the highway, reducing commute times and congestion, but even more importantly – it will improve safety for all motorists in the region.”

For Acheson Industrial Area, the improvement of Highway 60 means better traffic flow, improved commute times, and safer travels for the thousands of people that commute to, work in, and transport materials in and out of Acheson. Additionally, the improvements made on Highway 628 will have the longstanding effect of allowing better access for new land development in the industrial park. This will have a culminative effect that supports the growth now, and the anticipated growth in the future.

The outlook is incredibly positive. The region is attracting new businesses and developers and encouraging existing businesses to expand. The Government of Alberta has taken note of the area’s prosperity and has committed to two major multi-year projects to improve access and encourage investors.

In an economy that has fluctuated over the past years, Acheson remains a strong and steady economic driver that continues to grow.