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Sault Ste. Marie sinks a million dollars into 'pipe dream'

'I use pipe dream with no pun intended. This is a pipe dream in reality' - Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Shoemaker
David McHattie
David McHattie, Tenaris Canada's Calgary-based institutional relations director, attended tonight's teleconferenced meeting of Sault Ste. Marie City Council

Sault Ste. Marie councillors voted seamlessly tonight to contribute $500,000 to what one councillor quipped is a "pipe dream in reality."

The grant to Tenaris Algoma Tubes Inc. from the city's economic development fund, approved unanimously by councillors, will be matched by another $500,000 from the reserves of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp.

Tenaris wants to spend between $70 million and $80 million to transform its Sault plant into most comprehensive pipe manufacturing facility in Canada.

First reported by SooToday last month, the industrial transformation project includes a 30,000-square-foot building addition with 75 new jobs expected to be created in its first year, and 50 more full-time equivalent jobs.

"This is, without question in my mind, the best opportunity that I've seen in my six years come from the economic development fund," said Mayor Provenzano.

"You are a proven company with a proven track record in our community," the mayor told Dave McHattie, Tenaris Canada's Calgary-based institutional relations director, who attended the teleconferenced City Council meeting.

"This is a very concrete project that will make a significant investment in our community," the mayor said.

"It will make your facility here a national leader and a world leader in manufacturing. That's what we want to do. We want to lead here in Sault Ste. Marie."

"I think this is a fantastic project. I categorically support the ask entirely and I appreciate your giving us the opportunity to support your company in this project. I appreciate the faith that your company is showing in Sault Ste. Marie by making this investment," said Provenzano.

Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian pointed out that Tenaris is planning to buy as much as $200 million in hot-rolled coil from Algoma Steel.

"Tenaris recognizes Sault Ste. Marie as a place to do business, and a place to invest in," Christian said.

"We often hear: 'We need more industry. Can't you bring some industry?' This partnership is just that," said Ward 5 Coun. Corey Gardi.

Ward 3's Matthew Shoemaker added: "We always get questions, you know, we need to bring a car plant here. We need to bring this here. We need to bring that here. Well, we've got two great industrial partners, as well as additional ancilliary suppliers, industrial businesses in town. But our anchors are Algoma and Tenaris."

"Algoma recently came out of difficult times and is on solid ground. Tenaris has been experiencing difficult times but has come through this with a decision to invest in Sault Ste. Marie."

"It's better than a pipe dream of getting this facility or that production facility. I use pipe dream with no pun intended. This is a pipe dream in reality. It's the dream that Tenaris offers us of adding to our industrial base," Shoemaker said.

"Right now, things are really looking up," said Ward 5 Coun. Matthew Scott.

Answering a question about timelines from Ward 4's Marchy Bruni, Tenaris's McHattie said the company has so far not received confirmation of funding from other levels of government, but said project planning is already underway.

"We hope this leads to an eventual public announcement where we can share final details. What I can say is that our target is to have this investment concluded by 2021."

"We're hopeful to have it in operation with the first pipe on the new line during the November-December period," McHattie said.

"Our community deserves a really good piece of news and I think this information and supporting this project is a really piece of news for our community," added Mayor Provenzano.

In other news, a report from the city's integrity commissioner that cleared the mayor of wrongdoing in the Studio 10/Dime Nightclub property acquisition was accepted as information, without even a single twerk from fellow council members.