Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City misses magazine's list for economic development

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THROUGH the quirks of timing -- and a lull in new development -- Winnipeg did not make it onto a prominent annual list of top Canadian economic-development groups.

It wasn't even one of the 10 honourable mentions.

Showing their worth

Top economic development groups

City of Ajax (Ont.)

Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association

Canada's Technology Triangle (Ont.)

City of Charlottetown (PEI)

City of Hamilton Economic Development (Ont.)

Montréal International

Québec International

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (Ont.)

Invest Toronto

WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp. (Ont.)

Honourable mentions

City of Brampton Economic Development Office (Ont.)

Calgary Economic Development (Alberta)

Edmonton Economic Development Corp. (Alberta)

City of Kitimat/Haisla First Nation (B.C.)

London Economic Development Corp. (Ont.)

Prince Rupert & Port Edward Economic Development Corp. (B.C.)

Quinte Economic Development Commission (Ont.)

Regina Regional Opportunities Commission (Sask.)

City of Richmond (B.C.)

Vancouver Economic Commission (B.C.)

-- source: Site Selection

Last year, Economic Development Winnipeg was on the top 10 list produced by Atlanta-based Site Selection magazine based on the number and size of private-sector projects on the go. Regional partnerships, proactive and innovative programming, quality data and web tools and resources are factored into selecting the honourable mentions.

Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection magazine said, "It's not surprising that people might jump up and ask why they aren't there. But it doesn't mean a community has fallen off the map. It just means it was not quite a banner year as the year before in terms of project activity."

In 2012-13, there were 12 projects on the go in Winnipeg, including a number of hotels, the IKEA store and plant expansions at Maple Leaf Foods and Winpak. The ranking does not take into account public-sector developments such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights or the new Richardson International Airport terminal.

Greg Dandewich, vice-president at Economic Development Winnipeg, said being left off the 2014 ranking is not a slight on the work EDW is doing or a suggestion there are no new developments in the city.

"If in one year there are a number of announcements that come up and get into the competition, that drives the decision-making process," said Dandewich.

"They (Site Selection) really key on some of the larger projects. But once they come into existence and are activated, we can't use that as part of our submission."

Bruns said his organization uses a proprietary database to rank communities aggregating a number of specific parameters counting new construction or renovations that meet one or more of the following: 20 or more new jobs created, a minimum of 20,000 square feet of space or an investment of at least $1 million (including construction cost, land and building).

Renovations do not qualify based on square footage alone.

Bruns was aware of activity in the city, noting the stunning architecture of the CMHR.

But he said, "You can't expect a place to be at the top year after year in attracting projects. If there was a banner year the year before, likely a community will still be seeing through a nice family of projects from corporate investors."

EDW has prided itself on doing a good job of profiling developments in the city, and Dandewich said this ranking is reflective of activities that have taken place in the market, not necessarily attributed to EDW.

There have been a number of recent industrial developments, including expansions at Price Industries and Boeing and a CN training facility. Dandewich said there are a few other things on the horizon.

"There are things happening," said Dandewich.

"The cycle has been pretty good over the past five years for industrial expansions in Winnipeg and the city remains very cost-competitive. We're always putting that information out there, because not everyone understands we are that competitive in the North American Midwest."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2014 B6

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