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Heartland 101 September 2016: Heartland History Repeats Itself

photo_heartland_101_201609More than six decades ago, construction began on the first industrial facility in the region. A timeline of development from then until today required a steady stream of trucks, trains, pipelines, and cranes assembling more than $30 billion worth of facilities in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.

These Advantages Sound Familiar?

In 1952, Sherritt started construction of their nickel refinery near Fort Saskatchewan. They would prove to be the first of many global companies who chose to locate in this region, officially designated as Alberta’s Industrial Heartland in 1998.

The three main reasons Sherritt chose that particular site: a ready supply of natural gas, access to water, and the town’s location on the Canadian National Railroad line. Decades later, those three reasons – feedstock, utilities, and infrastructure – still remain as some of the region’s biggest advantages. Projects currently planned for the region include natural gas processing and natural gas fired power generation facilities, taking advantage of the historically low cost of natural gas feedstock.

Value Adding is Still in Style

The notion of value adding – taking lower value feedstock to produce higher value products – isn’t a new trend. In fact, Sherritt’s nickel refinery kicked off the value adding movement in the Heartland. At one point, nickel from their facility was used to make nickel blanks for the Royal Canadian Mint.

More than 60 years after the first value adding facility began operations here, dozens of other global companies continue the trend. The fertilizer from Agrium, ethylene glycol for polyester fibres from MEGlobal, and propane from Keyera and Pembina are just a few of many examples of value added products originating in the Heartland region and bound for markets across the world.

“This region has become an economic driver for our province – producing value-added products the world wants right here in Alberta,” explained Garry Dlouhy, Senior Operations Manager, Pembina Pipeline Corporation’s Redwater Fractionation & Storage Facility, which just celebrated their 40th anniversary and ribbon cutting of their newest project, RFSII, a $400+ million expansion.

“We’re proud of the win-win relationships we’ve established in the Heartland; where local communities grant us permission to operate and in turn we support the local, provincial and national economies through our growth projects, operations and community engagement,” said Dlouhy.

Hear About the Heartland History and Future

More than 20 companies will be attending Life in the Heartland’s upcoming Community Information Evening on October 20 at the Gibbons Cultural Centre from 5 – 8 pm. Join us to learn about past projects and future initiatives. RSVP to info@lifeintheheartland.com or 780.231.9802 (call or text).

For more information about Life in the Heartland, visit lifeintheheartland.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or email info@lifeintheheartland.com.