Former Ford factory site gets €3m injection


The government of Flanders has provided €3 million to the new Dry Port Genk, being developed on the former site of the Ford factory in Limburg province

‘Logistic hotspot’

The government of Flanders has announced €3 million in financial aid for the development of Dry Port Genk, a transportation hub on the site of the former Ford factory in Genk. The hub is being built by logistics company H Essers, and will specialise in the movement and storage of chemicals.

The government took ownership of the former Ford plant after it closed at the end of 2014, and is pursuing a plan to transform it into a business park, with 2,500 new jobs. Part of the plan is to exploit the meeting of transport routes at the site, where road and rail can connect with inland shipping on the Albert Canal.

This is the idea behind Dry Port Genk, which will be devoted to the movement and storage of a wide range of chemical products, such as car paint and cleaning materials. The first customer for the hub will be VWR, a multinational distributer of laboratory products and materials.

Chemicals are usually transported by road, but H Essers estimates that it can avoid thousands of truck journeys every month by shifting some of them to rail and water. It insists that all the goods involved will be finished and packed before they arrive in Genk, so safety and environmental risks are minimal.

420 new jobs

“Despite our strong international growth, we also keep investing in Limburg,” said Gert Bervoets, the company’s chief executive. “With this site, we’re taking another step towards Genk becoming a logistics hotspot, in addition to providing jobs in our province.”

The €3 million from the Flemish government comes on top of some €80 million that the company is investing in the project. Economy minister Philippe Muyters expressed his satisfaction that the old Ford plant now has a bright future ahead of it.

“That future begins today,” he said, “with the construction of an innovative logistics site by H Essers, where 50 people will be able to start work this year and where more than 420 jobs will be created in the coming years. This is another boost for Genk and Limburg.”

Work on the site was formally inaugurated last February. The first two halls of Dry Port Genk, in total covering 30,000 square metres, should be operational in November. The remaining halls will be built over a period of five to 10 years.