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Yes, Winnipeg, 1,208 jobs have been created

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A two-year-old economic development organization whose goal was to help create 4,200 new jobs in Winnipeg by the end of 2015 is well on its way to reaching its target, its top executive said Thursday.

Yes! Winnipeg leader Bill Morrissey told about 150 people attending the private-sector organization's annual meeting that it needed to help create at least 1,175 direct jobs in its first two years to stay on pace for 4,200 new jobs by the end of its five-year initiative.

And with a month still to go in year two, it has already hit 1,208, he added.

Yes! Winnipeg, which operates under Economic Development Winnipeg, Inc., hopes to achieve its goal in four ways -- by helping local entrepreneurs launch new ventures here, by helping existing firms expand their operations here, by helping attract new companies to the city, and by helping convince existing businesses that are thinking about leaving to stay.

Morrissey said 454 of the 1,208 new jobs were created as a result of local expansions, 368 were created by newcomers to the city, 329 were from new start-up ventures, and 57 were from company retentions.

He said the organization's 45 "successes" to date include a variety of different types of companies. Some of the examples he cited were Traffilog, an Israeli company that opened a North American office here to offer web- and cellular-based fleet management services to trucking firms and other transportation-related businesses; Vesta Home Delivery, a Dallas-based firm that opened a Canadian office here after landing the contract to deliver and assemble furniture for customers of the newly opened IKEA store in Winnipeg; Nordik Spa-Nature, a Quebec company that is opening a new spa on the former Crescent Drive Golf Course; and Whiteshell Dairy Foods Ltd, a new commercial cheese plant South American immigrant Pedro Campayo has opened in the city's North End.

Morrissey said Yes! Winnipeg's 11-member team has another 36 "active possibilities" it will be pursuing in 2013.

They include ongoing efforts to attract a new Centre of Excellence for Grains Research and Commercialization to Winnipeg; and ongoing efforts by the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development to establish a new joint venture which would harvest phosphorus-rich cattails and bulrushes from marshes that drain into Lake Winnipeg and convert them into ethanol, biomass fuels and organic fertilizers.

IISD official Hank Venema said the initiative, which would also reduce phosphorus levels in the lake, completed a large harvest experiment in the Netley-Libau March this year. Now it needs to raise enough money to conduct a full-blown commercial feasibility/resource-assessment study.

Venema said they're hoping to begin the study in 2013.


-- Murray McNeill

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2012 B6

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