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Steady pace pays off

Winnipeg's economic growth second-best in West

Dale Kellington (left) and Martin Petrak of the Orthopaedic Innovation Centre hold parts of a knee joint they will soon be printing in 3D. The firm is contributing to the boost in economic growth this year.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dale Kellington (left) and Martin Petrak of the Orthopaedic Innovation Centre hold parts of a knee joint they will soon be printing in 3D. The firm is contributing to the boost in economic growth this year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/5/2015 (1192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg's classic steady-growth economy is sometimes enough to get ahead of the pack.

The Conference Board of Canada's latest metropolitan forecast shows Winnipeg is expected to have the strongest growth rate of any city in Western Canada -- not counting Vancouver -- in 2015 at 2.5 per cent.

The Ottawa think-tank credits a strong services sector, an increase in non-residential construction and a manufacturing sector that's expanding faster than the national average.

Modest growth is expected in Regina and Saskatoon and declines in Calgary and Edmonton are attributed to the slump in oil prices.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/5/2015 (1192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg's classic steady-growth economy is sometimes enough to get ahead of the pack.

The Conference Board of Canada's latest metropolitan forecast shows Winnipeg is expected to have the strongest growth rate of any city in Western Canada — not counting Vancouver — in 2015 at 2.5 per cent.

The Ottawa think-tank credits a strong services sector, an increase in non-residential construction and a manufacturing sector that's expanding faster than the national average.

Modest growth is expected in Regina and Saskatoon and declines in Calgary and Edmonton are attributed to the slump in oil prices.

"Winnipeg is the only Prairie city in our forecast to see its economic fortune improve this year," said Alan Arcand, associate director of the board's Centre for Municipal Studies.

"Local manufacturing will moderate this year, but services growth will stay healthy and non-residential construction will see an upswing."

'Local manufacturing will moderate this year, but services growth will stay healthy and non-residential construction will see an upswing'

The solid growth is up from 2.1 per cent in 2014.

The board expects employment to snap back from a slight downturn in 2014, with a rise of 2.2 per cent.

It believes the solid economic performance has kept out-migration to other provinces modest recently, while attracting newcomers from other countries and elsewhere in Manitoba.

Ongoing investments in the manufacturing infrastructure is required to maintain that growth.

The recent creation of Precision ADM, a joint venture between the Orthopaedic Innovation Centre (OIC) at Concordia Hospital and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, is an excellent example of that.

For several years, the OIC has been developing methods to produce specialized orthopedic products and holds some joint patents with Stratasys, a $2-billion company out of Minneapolis.

A recent $5-million grant from Western Economic Diversification has allowed the OIC to acquire equipment that will let it do additive manufacturing that uses titanium and cobalt carbon.

The new spinoff company will produce specialized products for medical and aerospace customers.

It has also effectively encouraged a division of the global leader in the manufacture of sophisticated 3D printers to set up shop in Winnipeg.

"These are materials that are used in medical and aerospace fields," said Martin Petrak, the chief executive officer of the OIC.

"They work well together because they use some of the same material and there is the same burden of high regulatory environment."

The WED funding is expected to kick-start a $20-million strategic advanced digital manufacturing hub over the next five years.

Greg Dandewich, senior vice-president at Economic Development Winnipeg, said the OIC's efforts are a good example of how Winnipeg's economy works.

"In order to compete, you have to be innovative," Dandewich said.

"The OIC is an example of identifying niche capabilities and use that as a platform to go after something more substantial."

The board's metropolitan outlook for the spring indicates a stronger U.S. economy and softer Canadian dollar will fuel exports and support modest manufacturing growth in Winnipeg of 2.6 per cent this year.

Local construction is forecast to expand by four per cent this year thanks to a healthy non-residential investment outlook, which includes the city's investment in public transportation infrastructure, despite a dip in residential construction.

The board is forecasting 1.3 per cent to 1.4 per cent annual population growth in Winnipeg for the next several years.

"The economy can't grow without population," Dandewich said.

"There continues to be strong inflow from new immigrants coming in and we want to continue to stem the outflow from inter-provincial out-migration. When there are opportunities because the economy is growing, typically people stay."

Winnipeg's services sector is expected to expand by 2.4 per cent in 2015, with all sectors showing growth.

An expected slowdown in retail sales in 2015 suggests a more moderate but still healthy 2.8 per cent uptick in wholesale and retail trade output. On the other hand, growth in business services is forecast to accelerate to 2.8 per cent from 0.5 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, the board forecasts an expansion of 2.1 per cent in finance, insurance and real estate, Winnipeg's largest services industry.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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History

Updated on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9:09 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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