Ponoka still has aircraft plant aspirations

The Town of Ponoka remains hopeful that it might one day become an aerospace hotspot. But it’s now pursuing this possibility in partnership with other communities.

The Town of Ponoka remains hopeful that it might one day become an aerospace hotspot. But it’s now pursuing this possibility in partnership with other communities.

In December, it was revealed that Ponoka was on a short list of sites being considered for an aircraft manufacturing plant. Terry Ferguson, an investment adviser from Edmonton who is working as project facilitator for Aeromax Loadstar Ltd., said that Ponoka and Wetaskiwin were frontrunners for the project.

Aeromax Loadstar, which is a subsidiary of Seattle-based Aeromax International Inc., wants to produce a new utility aircraft with a broad range of uses. It’s chosen Alberta as its preferred manufacturing site, pointing to the relatively low business costs here.

The appeal of Ponoka, Ferguson said previously, is the availability of land near its airport runway and the support of the community in pushing the project forward. He explained that Aeromax is seeking investors who would become limited partners in the venture and finance the plant and its operations.

Ferguson now says that Ponoka and Wetaskiwin have gone from being competitors to allies, with Leduc a third member of a municipal consortium seeking to bring Aeromax Loadstar to this area.

“They said they were going to look at this as a regional initiative,” he said, referring to the trio as the LWP (Leduc-Wetaskiwin-Ponoka) Region.

Brad Watson, Ponoka’s chief administrative officer, confirmed that the communities are working together to attract Aeromax Loadstar. Ponoka remains involved, he said, with research conducted by the town supporting the market potential of the aircraft.

The Aeromax Loadstar is being promoted as an alternative to the de Havilland Twin Otter — the longtime workhorse of the utility aircraft industry. The Aeromax would have a 5,000-pound-capacity cargo bay capable of holding standard shipping containers.

A full-scale mock-up of the plane was created several years ago with funding from a Red Deer-based investor group.

If a manufacturing plant is built here, a flying prototype of the Aeromax would be developed, with the first planes ready for sale in four years, said Ferguson. Production would eventually ramp up to 144 planes a year, with a thousand jobs and annual economic benefits of $300 million resulting.

Watson said in December that the appeal of an aircraft manufacturing plant is the fact it would be a clean, high-tech business and generate significant economic benefits.

Ferguson said the three municipalities are concentrating on bringing Aeromax Loadstar to the region, with the specific location of the plant to be worked out later.

“They’ve agreed that no matter where the project is located, as far as the plant, they will all benefit.”

Ferguson pointed out that Aeromax International will ultimately decide where the plant will go, regardless of his recommendations. He added that a site elsewhere in the province could still be chosen, particularly if there was interest from investors there.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

BREAKING: Delburne man found not guilty in connection with 2016 fatal rollover

Daniel Wayne Newsham had been on trial for manslaughter

Loan officer accused of $1 million fraud to plead guilty

Accused allegedly forged customer names to get loans while working at Sylvan Lake bank

Red Deer to get new plan to end homelessness as problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

‘A stronger Alberta:’ Ottawa announces $1.6B for Canada’s oil and gas sector

Ottawa is spending $1.6 billion to help struggling energy companies stay afloat,… Continue reading

Canada ranks 16th on World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap list

TORONTO — Canada has landed the 16th spot in the World Economic… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Most Read