BRIDGEWATER – The lights were on and cameras were rolling for a massive $300 million investment announcement at Bridgewater's Michelin plant March 14. The money will be spread out among the three Nova Scotia plants in Bridgewater,, Pictou and Waterville.
Among special guests included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, Alexis Garcin, the CEO and president of Michelin North America and Andrew Mutch, president of Michelin Canada made the announcement at a special event that attracted media from across Canada.
The dignitaries received a tour of the plant prior to the announcement and were able to meet and talk with some of the employees.
The Bridgewater plant will receive $140 million to expand and upgrade the facilities to make them more energy efficient by using more electrification in its process. The plant will also have some upgrades that will enable them to begin production of a 24-inch all-season tire to meet the growing demand and sales of electric vehicles and SUVs.
The expansion is expected to be completed by 2025.
Included in the total investment, the company will receive up to $44.3 million in federal funding through the Strategic Innovation Fund, pending a final agreement, and on a provincial level, Houston announced they will receive a tax credit of about $61.3 million over five years from the province towards their facilities.
"I believe these investments will strengthen the competitiveness of Bridgewater and its sister plants for the coming 50 years," said Garcin, who congratulated the local team for being making Michelin a success.
The overall investment will create up to 70 new jobs in Bridgewater, adding to the 1,200 already at work at the facility. Provincially, 3,600 employees are employed by the tire giant that has been manufacturing tires in the province since 1971.
The prime minister congratulated the employees on their hard work.
"We want small communities to be thriving, vibrant places where people can be proud of their work, where young families get to stay and grow, we need good jobs and great careers. and that's what today's announcement is all about," he said.
He has been told since taking office that the government had to choose between supporting the environment and the economy, but this announcement proves that you can have both.
Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell said, in an interview following the announcement, that they have been working on expansion for a while.
"This started five years ago when the plant manager came and asked us about moving the road six feet, then they could think about a possible expansion, because the plant is landlocked," he said. "Our response was that we're not going to move the road six feet, we will just get it out of the way. The plant has been here for 52 years already and now we're securing multiple generations of employment going forward. This is incredible. It's a great day for all of us."
He added that being a Michelin family-type of town is a great thing to be because they are a great partner and a great corporate neighbour. What sticks out for him though are the people that work there.
"It's the staff. I hear that as a member of the international Michelin cities group, they keep reminding me, that no matter what plant they represent in the world, they know exactly where Bridgewater is and they're told repeatedly about the product that comes out of Bridgewater and its quality.
"I get asked about why it can't be replicated elsewhere? And it's because of the people, that 's the only thing that's different."
Lunenburg MLA and the province's Minister of Economic Development commented that "we are thrilled that Michelin has chosen to continue to grow in and with Nova Scotia...we are writing a brand new story.
That story is being told with a renewed sense of confidence and is fuelled by population growth, by innovation across all the sectors, by green energy opportunities and long-standing relationships with companies like Michelin and most of all, it is a story that is being told by many."
Following the announcement, Prime Minister Trudeau toured the South Shore and made stops in several locations along the South Shore for quick meet-and-greets.