CentrePort Canada Inc. in Winnipeg has launched an awareness campaign with North American businesses that have experienced supply chain disruptions during COVID-19.

The goal of the project is to encourage businesses to come to Manitoba — “the heart of the continent” — and set up shop in CentrePort.

The 20,000-acre trimodal inland port and foreign trade area is located partly in Winnipeg and partly in the adjacent rural municipality of Rosser.

Diane Gray, president and CEO of CentrePort, says the campaign will target advanced manufacturing and value-added agribusiness companies.

CentrePort hopes to capitalize on the fact that the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic have led many companies to reassess the way they operate.

Many of these companies think it might make sense to keep their chain of suppliers and business partners closer to home.

They are willing to trade the lower cost of an international supply chain for the greater certainty that their business will not be disrupted and their customers unhappy.

In other words, they are considering moving from a just-in-time inventory strategy to a just-in-case supply chain model.

It’s the only inland port in North America with tri-mode connections… It’s also the largest, at 20,000 acres,

—Diane Gray

CentrePort

To launch its awareness campaign, CentrePort is looking for a business development consultant who will be able to convince companies of the advantages of establishing themselves in the largest trimodal inland port in North America.

“After you find the right person, it will probably take a few years to analyze the supply chain situation,” Gray said.

CentrePort has high-quality industrial land with immediate access to road, rail and air connections, she says.

“It’s the only inland port in North America with tri-mode connections,” Gray said. “It’s also the largest, with 20,000 acres. Two thousand acres of that are in development right now.

More than 150 businesses have moved to CentrePort since the facility became fully operational in 2018.

CentrePort recently signed an agreement with Focus Equities Inc., a Victoria-based property developer, to develop Rail Park, a 665-acre industrial park for businesses that need rail connections to their facilities.

According to CentrePort, Rail Park is unique in Canada because it combines industrial space and logistics infrastructure.

The facility will provide companies that ship large volumes the ability to access, transfer and transport goods between road and rail.

Rail Park is approximately five miles northwest of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s main yard and is just south of that railway’s main east-west line. It is also close to Winnipeg International Airport.

“With global supply chain issues affecting the industry, there has never been more demand in North America for a centralized logistics and shipping location for rail, truck and air than ‘today,’ said Focus owner Ken Mariash.

The company began developing the first 200 acres of Rail Park.

“We have seven or eight companies interested in setting up there now, such as agricultural and fertilizer manufacturers and freight forwarders,” Mariash said. “These are companies that need rail-truck and long-haul-short-haul connections.”

He expects all 200 acres to be developed by fall 2023.

“But I anticipate it will take about 10 years to complete the 665 acres of Rail Park,” Mariash said.

Focus, which has been developing real estate, energy and infrastructure projects for more than 50 years, has completed “10 or 12” projects like Rail Park, Mariash says.

“They’re big, complex and expensive,” he said. “Sometimes we have to build our own roads to access our developments.”

Rail Park is expected to create over 4,800 direct and indirect jobs.

Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, says CentrePort will give a major boost to Winnipeg’s role as an important global transportation and infrastructure center, just as it was in the late 19th and early 1900s. 20th century.

“The most important part of CentrePort’s history is that when it started it was considered a myth,” Lorenc said. “But since then he has dramatically demonstrated that Manitoba’s geographic position allows for smart investments in all areas of domestic and international trade, transportation and logistics. “Winnipeg has shown that you don’t have to be a big city to do this. What we need is a central geographic location like Winnipeg and public and private sector commitment.

Bram Strain, President and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, says

CentrePort is good not only for the economy of Winnipeg and its immediate region, but also for the whole province.

“Manitoba is at the center of North America,” said Strain. “All three major railroads and two transcontinental highways pass through Manitoba, and we have the only seaport in northern Canada, which is Churchill on Hudson Bay.