October 14, 2014
Napanee-based Strathcona Solar Initiatives cut the ribbon on its new Napanee manufacturing plant on Friday, and announced the launch of the Strathcona Energy Group, a holding company uniting a number of internationally-based photovoltaic product manufacturers.
Strathcona Solar announced the creation of new job positions in the region — 50 in Napanee, and 130 in Belleville — thanks to its establishment of the manufacturing plant in Napanee as well as their acquisition of the old Nortel building in Belleville, which will become a new manufacturing facility for the Strathcona Energy Group.
The announcement of 130 manufacturing jobs at the soon-to-be reconfigured former Nortel building was wonderful news to Belleville mayor Neil Ellis who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It’s an exciting time for Napanee and the area, and our city,” said Ellis. “It’s jobs, it’s connections, and it’s partnerships. This is going to not only build skilled labour, but bring these skilled jobs and keep them in Belleville. Nortel, as we all know, went down fast, and has been a plant in our neighbourhood that needs rebuilding. It’s a plant that we’ve always worried about being a derelict plant.
“To have the life of Strathcona Energy Group to put that life back into a manufacturing plant, to make it in Ontario, I can tell you, the area is the best for skilled and people who will stay at their jobs.”
Ellis said the manufacturing is exciting, but so is the potential for business incubation through the Strathcona Energy Group.
“To bring other companies from Europe into Belleville to have a startup, to be able to go into a market that is a friendly market and join the whole group, will make it easier for expansion not only in the Quinte area, but in Ontario in general.”
Ellis noted Belleville owns the largest municipally-owned solar rooftop in Canada, plus three others and two more in the works, and a solar manufacturing industry in Belleville is a perfect fit.
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at the new Napanee plant, a 60,000-square-foot building. The building was derelict when Strathcona Solar acquired it, but has been updated to house the manufacturing of a solar muddle system that will serve the European market.
The Strathcona Energy Group unites a number of companies from Canada, the US, and Germany offering global photovoltaic products and services in commercial, agricultural, and residential applications. Those companies include Strathcona Solar Initiatives plus the Ontario Eclipsall Manufacturing Corp, Mage Solar USA, and FATH PV TECH, based in Germany.
Daryl Kramp, MP for Prince Edward-Hastings, had high praise for Strathcona’s expansion.
“We should really recognize what we have here — this is not simply a ‘new business,’” said Kramp. “This is an unbelievable opportunity, something we can really build on.”
Since its founding in 2009, Strathcona Solar Initiatives has received support from federal government programs including grants and loans through the PELA CFDC, as well as the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII), which has supported the advancement of renewable energy business.
Kramp congratulated the many partners who have made the growth of Strathcona Solar and the establishment of the Strathcona Energy Group holding company possible.
He said the exciting new initiatives that will come out of the Strathcona Energy Group — including plans for the establishment of an innovative North American Business Centre/Incubator that will assist European and Asian renewable energy companies interested in the Canadian and U.S. markets — will play a big role in putting small communities in the Quinte region on the international business map.
“We no longer just live in our own backyards,” said Kramp. “Canada is a trading nation. Our economy, and our standards, and our way of life depend on our ability to be able to interact globally.”
Strathcona Solar CEO, Karl Hollett, thanked the many partners involved leading up to Friday’s announcement.
“Strathcona Solar is extremely grateful for the remarkable government and civic support we have received on every level of growth,” says Karl Hollett, the CEO of Strathcona Solar Initiatives. “Being able to develop our Ontario-grown company into an operating group with global offices and sales is an immense opportunity for us and a great honour that will also benefit the local, regional and hopefully even national economies.”
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