Since the 1950s, world renowned corporations have chosen to locate in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland region. Growing in size and scale since that time, the Heartland is now home to more than 40 companies employing a work force of more than 6,700 people. The geographic region of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is 582 square kilometres (225 square miles) of industrial land. This includes 533 square kilometres (205 square miles) within the City of Fort Saskatchewan and the Counties of Lamont, Strathcona and Sturgeon, in addition to 49 square kilometres (20 square miles) in the City of Edmonton (known as the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park).
Industrial development in the region is done so using “eco-industrial principles”. This means that future development is designed to share, and thus make the most efficient use of information, raw materials, energy, infrastructure, and natural habitats. The intent is to preserve both environmental and human resources for the local community while generating appropriate financial returns for the business.
Past and Future Industrial Development
To date, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland has attracted over $30 billion of investment and developed into Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region. Industrial activity includes fertilizer production, resource upgrading and refining, petrochemical development, mineral processing, and more.
Within the past decade, the Heartland has seen significant shifts in the type of development prospects for the region. In the mid 2000s, the region was the chosen centre for bitumen upgrading from Alberta’s oil sands. Due to shifting energy and economic dynamics, plans for building several large upgrader projects in the Heartland were halted. The most recent trend centres around the discovery of major shale gas deposits in Alberta and north eastern British Columbia, resulting in abundant and cost advantaged supplies of key petrochemical feedstocks derived from natural gas.
Overall the Heartland is seeing a dramatic increase in inquiries from companies interested in tapping into the Heartland as the centre of energy and logistics for western Canada. Future development is slated to further increase the region’s bitumen upgrading and refining capacity (North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon Refinery), pipeline network, and petrochemical processing capabilities. Additionally, new technologies, such as an alternative form of upgrading, are also being explored to enhance the resource-based and other sectors.
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