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Can they do it? Yes, they can

Yes! Winnipeg on track to create, retain 4,200 jobs by end of 2015

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Yes! Winnipeg's Bill Morrissey says his office is in regular communication with Manitoba business leaders to help the organization gain insight into their expansion plans.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Yes! Winnipeg's Bill Morrissey says his office is in regular communication with Manitoba business leaders to help the organization gain insight into their expansion plans. Photo Store

Three years into its five-year mandate, Yes! Winnipeg believes it's making strides.

At its annual meeting Thursday morning, the division of Economic Development Winnipeg that works to attract new businesses and retain and expand existing ones showed it's on its way to reaching its goal of assisting in the creation (and retention) of 4,200 jobs by the end of 2015.

Bill Morrissey, who's called the leader of Yes! Winnipeg, said the team's approach has become more focused. He said his office is in regular communication with business leaders who are already here and has gained better insights into what their expansion plans are.

'I'm dead serious. There have been very few cases of companies that decided this is not the right place for them' -- Bill Morrissey

As well, he said, the team understands better the obvious gaps in the supply chain, especially in the niche markets where the Winnipeg value proposition makes the most sense.

"Where we have evolved and where we are most optimistic going forward is that within the nine key focus sectors we have identified sub-sectors within those," Morrissey said. "We understand the pieces that are missing and we can go after them."

For instance, he said that means being on the lookout for key players in the developing bio-fibre business. As well, with the increasing demand for digital data management and cloud computing services, a data centre strategy is in the works with Manitoba Hydro on board, owing to the massive power requirements of such facilities.

Although it may not be the sexiest element of the work it does, Morrissey said he's very pleased with how little time he and his team are forced to spend on business retention. Aside from medical device company IMRIS Inc., which moved to Minneapolis this year, he said there are few instances of Winnipeg companies pulling up stakes and going elsewhere.

"I'm dead serious," he said. "There have been very few cases of companies that decided this is not the right place for them."

Among the accomplishments in 2013, Yes! Winnipeg helped the city get ranked second among Canadian cities that best market their region by influential U.S. site selectors.

In 2013, Yes! Winnipeg's top 10 engagements represented about 766 jobs that are predicted to be created at the maturity of those projects.

Over the course of its three years in existence, Yes! Winnipeg count as its successes 52 different instances where it has played a role in the attraction, retention or expansion of business in Winnipeg. Those files represent 1,853 jobs that are expected to be created at the maturity of those projects, where $280 million has been invested.

Some of its major accomplishments in 2013 was assisting in the attraction of a Canadian Tire data centre, the expansion of Canada Goose's production operations in Winnipeg and a $50-million expansion at Winpak.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2013 B6

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