Photograph courtesy Richard Haddow
The old Ford Motor Company assembly plant in northeast Southwold has been sold. Amazon Canada is rumored to have purchased the property to develop a new warehouse, sorting and distribution centre.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Southwold Mayor Grant Jones said today, responding to the ‘sold’ signs that have appeared on the site. Terms of the transaction prevent Jones from immediately disclosing who the buyer is.
“Suffice it to say that the reality of any kind of development on the land is far better than bare ground,” added Jones. “It has the possibilities of being a real game changer for the whole
area in the future.”
Ford’s former St. Thomas Assembly plant was closed in 2011 after 44 years of operation. The shutdown put some 1,200 hourly-paid employees out of work. Employment levels were once as high as 3,600 people.
The plant was largely demolished by 2016 and decommissioned by 2019, when the 635-acre property was put up for sale. Back in the day, the 2.6-million-square-foot facility – opened in 1967 – was used to build the Ford Falcon, Lincoln Town Cars and the Mercury Grand Marquis.
“Amazon is a dynamic business, and we are constantly exploring new locations and weighing a variety of factors when deciding where to develop future sites to best serve customers,” according to Vanessa Pontes, an Amazon spokesperson. “We don’t comment on our future roadmap. We’re very excited to be growing our operations network and creating great jobs in Canada … “.
Amazon announced plans to open two delivery stations in London, in May, promising to create over 200 jobs. Those stations, in the city’s northeast end near the airport, were expected to open in July and October.
“Any development that takes place on the former Ford Assembly Plant site is good for the entire region,” said Sean Dyke, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jeff Bezos launched Amazon in 1995. Its principal corporate offices are in Seattle and Washington.
Amazon reports having made an $11 billion investment in Canada, with nearly $4 billion invested in 2019 alone. The firm has 23,000 full and part time employees in Canada and reports generating 67,000 jobs since 2010 at other companies in the construction, hospitality, professional services and retail industries.
Amazon operates in 25 Canadian communities in five provinces, with two technology hubs, one regional data centre, 13 fulfillment centres, two sorting centres and 15 delivery stations.
In Ontario alone, Amazon reports making an investment of more than $5 billion in the last 10 years, with 13,000 full and part time employees.