An ethanol plant which eventually proved to be Brantford’s loss and Aylmer’s gain, celebrated its official opening Wednesday, Dec. 17.
As an audience sitting inside a plastic tent shivered, officials toasted the stories which started with a group of farmers committed to investing in a plant that would eventually attract more than $14 million in government funding.
“We have grown from an impossible dream to an extraordinary reality,” said Tom Cox, chairman of the board of the Integrated Grain Processors Cooperative.
“It has been the confidence of board members that made this possible,” Cox said, paying tribute to the 900 area farmers who invested in the plant.
Cox said after the initial euphoria of announcing the plant after 2006, reality set in.
“Problems came faster than solutions,” Cox said.
IGPC Project Manager George Alkalay talked about the early challenges of finding investors.
“Knowing where to place trust was the ultimate decision,” he said.
“Without wishing to stifle their dreams, I cautiously told these projects are difficult,” Alkalay said.
Alkalay said IGPC successfully negotiated with Societe Generale of France as its major financial backer.
The Aylmer plant opens at a time when the ethanol industry is growing in Canada, Alkalay said.
Canada is poised to pass the one billion litre mark in ethanol production, said Gordon Quaiattini, president of Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
Aylmer and Malahide earned some complimentary remarks from IGPC CEO Jim Grey, who recalled how welcoming the town and township were in bringing IGPC to Aylmer.
In 2006, Cox and others who had the initial idea, wanted to invest in Brantford but plans fell through. Elgin-Middlesex-London Liberal MPP Steve Peters sold them on Aylmer.
“I think it’s important for you to know how hard Joe Preston (Conservative MP, Elgin-Middlesesex-London) worked to support the project,” said Pierre Lemieux, federal Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture.
In addition to federal funding, the project was supported by the Ontario Ethanol Growth Fund.
The IGPC plant employs 40 people.