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This article was published 7/10/2015 (1527 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba's 20,000-acre tri-modal inland port, CentrePort Canada, started out six years ago with the highest of expectations — billed as one of the greatest economic opportunities in Manitoba history by the president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
Undaunted, CentrePort and its private and government partners began laying the building blocks for success: becoming Canada's first foreign trade zone; designing a special planning area to fast-track development; securing water and waste-water servicing; and building CentrePort Canada Way, a high-speed expressway designed to move cargo trucks more efficiently to the highway network.
With 70 per cent of Manitoba's trucking industry clustered in and around CentrePort, moving cargo out of the city quickly is not only good for business, it's good for everyday drivers, helping to reduce congestion on other roadways. Six months after opening in late 2013, nearly 17,000 vehicles were using CentrePort Canada Way each day, with truck usage 11 per cent higher than forecast.
But life at CentrePort Canada is about more than a highway.
It's about attracting private investment and, to date, CentrePort has welcomed more than 200 acres of new development by 40 different businesses. These include companies such as SMS Equipment that specifically chose CentrePort to take advantage of its direct highway access. As those in the site-selection business advise: "Five minutes to 55 mph" is a critical advantage in attracting new operations.
And a drive through CentrePort in the Brookside and Inkster areas reveals plenty of bulldozers and backhoes in full swing, constructing long-haul trucking and warehousing operations that will produce even more cargo-carrying traffic when they open in the coming weeks and months.
As North America's largest inland port, CentrePort Canada will take decades to fully build, with the expressway being integral to opening up more land for development. This includes CentrePort's signature project, a new 700-acre rail park, which will begin construction in 2016, and is expected to attract at least $45 million in new private investment over the next two years.
In addition, several other industrial parks are being prepared by private developers, representing more than 600 acres of new economic activity. It is estimated these lands will attract 70 new businesses by 2020, many already in discussion about locating at CentrePort. The Winnipeg Airports Authority is also developing 260 acres on the west side of its land.
And a new 590-acre residential community is being planned on the southern edge of CentrePort, producing 3,300 residential units over 10 to 15 years, a potential employment base for CentrePort companies. The area will be buffered by a new 60-acre business park for commercial and retail services.
CentrePort is working with colleges and universities to ensure Manitobans are trained for the jobs being created, part of a "live, work, play, learn" approach that will support inland port development.
This is a time of growth at CentrePort — for Winnipeg and Manitoba — and a modern highway network that supports trade and transportation is an essential part of our efforts to attract private investment and create jobs for Manitobans.
Diane Gray is the founding president and CEO of CentrePort Canada Inc.
Updated on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 7:37 AM CDT: Changes photo