General Electric could have built their new “brilliant factory” anywhere in the world. But thanks in part to Niagara region’s proximity to the US border, its skilled workforce, and new business development incentives available through the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone & Centre Community Improvement Plan (Gateway CIP), GE chose to build in Welland, Ontario.
The 500,000-square-foot, first-ofits- kind in Canada plant represents a $165-million US investment in its first phase alone, and will create 220 jobs when it opens in early 2018.
“The Gateway Incentive Program is unique. It doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ontario,” says Adam Joon, Expeditor, Economic Development at Region of Niagara.
Launched within the past five years, the program is already proving to be a powerful tool to attract new investment to the region, and to help existing businesses grow.
The Niagara Gateway CIP provides financial incentives to property owners who revitalize, strengthen and diversify the Niagara economy by promoting private sector investment, development, redevelopment, and construction activity on employment lands in the Gateway Community Improvement Project Area.
Industrial and non-retail commercial businesses of all sizes are eligible to apply for funding from two programs available through the Gateway CIP.
The Tax Increment Based Grant Program provides an incremental tax grant to completed projects within the Gateway Project Area, based on the project’s economic and environmental design performance. Successful applicants receive a tax rate rebate of a percentage of the post-project values, for a period of up to 10 years.
This incentive will save GE some $30+ million on property taxes for the new Welland facility over the next decade.
In addition, the Regional Development Charge Grant Program may provide businesses with additional relief of up to $1.5 million from regional development charges for exceptional projects through the Gateway CIP program.
Both Gateway CIP programs are available to new companies wanting to move into the region as well as to established businesses looking to expand. “Our goal is to retain existing jobs and to create new jobs,” says Joon.
The Gateway CIP is delivered through a partnership between the Niagara Region and the municipalities of Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne, Thorold and Welland, Joon explains. The five municipalities offer a multi-modal network with easy access to road, rail and water, including the Welland Canal.
With a number of border crossings to the US, Niagara region has always been a natural gateway to the province of Ontario and the rest of Canada. “The Gateway incentive program gives us a further competitive edge,” Joon says.
The Niagara Region and its local municipalities offer several other financial incentives to developers, investors and business owners interested in investing in the area.
The Development Charges Reduction Program provides a financial incentive to encourage development and redevelopment in central urban areas, local community improvement project areas, and brownfield sites.
Highlights include no regional development charge on projects where industrial gross floor area is enlarged by 50 per cent or less, and no regional development charge for affordable housing projects funded through an agreement with Niagara Regional Housing.
“Businesses who come here get great service from the municipality, are in a jurisdiction that is cost-competitive, and enjoy our great quality of life,” says Joon. “We are close to the US border and only an hour and fifteen minutes from the GTA. Now we can also offer the Gateway CIP, which is unique to the Niagara region.”