As Alberta keeps buzzing about hemp, the BioComposites Group plant in Drayton Valley received a visit from a high profile company.
VDL Groep, based out of the Netherlands, is an international industrial and manufacturing company. Corporate Vice President for North America Simon Bambach toured the Drayton Valley Fibre Mat Plant Thursday, alongside President and CEO of BioComposites Group Dan Madlung and his wife and business partner Brenda.
Several local politicians were also on-hand, including MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon Mark Smith, Village of Warburg Mayor Ralph van Assen, Town of Devon Mayor Stephen Lindop and Brazeau County Reeve Bart Guyon.
Bambach was shown a wide variety of items made out of hemp, wood and flax at the facility, including Terrafibre automotive parts like door panels, rear package trays and seat backs.
Items like those are up VDL Groep's alley; with the company operating a branch called VDL Bus & Coach, which consists of the development, manufacturing, sales and after-sales service of busses. Production of BMW X1’s and MINI Hatch vehicles are also manufactured by VDL Nedcar.
Bambach says he has received a fantastic welcome, and is “amazed by the technology he has seen here,” causing him to be very interested in further discussions.
Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Association Executive Director Barbara Engelbart says Bambach and the VDL Groep were first contacted in May of 2015 during a trade mission, and were invited to come to the area.
“It’s a big deal having them come over, they aren’t just coming for a tour. They are serious about manufacturing. We just need farmers on board with this now,” Guyon said.
Guyon isn’t the only one urging farmers to join the hemp train, as Dunlop echoes the same sentiment.
“The process developed here can go global, farmers have the opportunity to make lots of money when it comes to hemp. It is a great product for rural Alberta, and is helping to diversify the provinces economy.”
Smith says the end goal is to make a good connection with the VDL Groep, and to show them Drayton Valley and the area’s potential.
“It’s very exciting. There aren’t many times we get multi-national corporations that are interested in items that are Drayton Valley made. Many products coming out of Dan Madlung’s facility are applicable to the products VDL makes,” he adds.
Currently, Canada is the only country in North America where the cultivation of industrial hemp is legal. Alberta’s share of total Canadian hemp production area grew from approximately 2 per cent in 1998 to 32 per cent in 2011.
The area of Drayton Valley to Leduc is considered to be some of the best land in the world for hemp production, due to the climate of hot summer days and cool evenings.
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