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Western Canada: Leveraging Resources to Maximize Growth

By honing incentives and investing in infrastructure, the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are strengthening traditional and new industries to build for the future.

Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Aug/Sep 09)
(page 2 of 2)
A venue for 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.
A venue for 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.
Manitoba
"Manitoba has one of Canada's most diversified economies, helping to make our province the most stable economic performer in the country," says Greg Selinger, Manitoba's Minister of Finance. "Independent forecasters predict the province's economy will outperform Canada's for the fourth consecutive year."
Traditional and emerging strengths arise from aerospace, life sciences and biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, renewable energy and green initiatives, and transportation and logistics.

Research and innovation is supported through programs like the Health Research Initiative (HRI), the Manitoba Health Research Council (MHRC), the Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund (MRIF), and the Agri-food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI). Research is ongoing at the Industrial Technology Centre, the Composites Innovation Centre, the Vehicle Technology Centre, the NRC Centre for the Commercialization of Biomedical Technologies, and the Centre for Applied Research and Commercialization at Red River College.


The alternative energy sector is fostering projects in wind, biofuels, geothermal projects, and hydrogen technology. Manitoba is also partnering on a Hydrogen Centre of Expertise, advancing the study of hydrogen applications and other new technologies such as plug-in hybrid cars.

"Manitoba is the only province in Canada to enjoy 17 consecutive years of private capital investment growth," says Andrew Swan, Minister of Competitiveness, Training and Trade. "Over the last three years, private capital investment in the province has been particularly strong, increasing by 42 percent - double the national increase. Recent successes include StandardAero's 80,000-square-foot, $20 million expansion in Winnipeg that will increase turbine-engine overhaul service and add 60 to 120 new employees by the end of 2009, with potential for an additional 150 to 200 by 2014. Additionally a 15-year, $850 million agreement to service engines powering WestJet's 737 next-generation aircraft will result in a $13 million expansion and an expected 250 new employees by 2012.

"StandardAero has its roots here going back to 1911 as Standard Engine Works," says Ian Smart, the company's senior vice president, Airlines and Fleets. "Today we rely on the work ethic and dedication of our employees to develop and deliver world-class services for our customers from around the world. We enjoy mutual support with the Winnipeg Airport Authority and Province of Manitoba to create a business environment where we can deliver on our promise of being a trusted service partner."

In the technology sector, Texas-based EDS is planning a new high-tech service center in Winnipeg, expected to create 1,000 new jobs over the next five years. In the medical sector, Siemens Institute for Advanced Medicine (SIAM) will open a $150 million, 80,000-square-foot facility in downtown Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre campus, housing up to 300 researchers and technical personnel exploring infectious diseases, neurological sciences and neurosurgery.

Saskatchewan
In 2008, Saskatchewan led the country in several key economic indicators, ranking first in overall growth in construction, exports, and retail sales. Last year, Saskatchewan experienced the highest investment growth rate in Canada - a 20 percent jump. To keep pace with new growth, the provincial government has committed $2.5 billion to infrastructure projects in the next two years.

According to Ken Cheveldayoff, Saskatchewan's Minister of Enterprise, mineral production totaled $9.7 billion in 2008 and more than $1.2 billion has been spent on exploration in the past five years. Saskatchewan has an abundance of two desired mineral commodities - potash (used to develop fertilizer) and uranium. Cheveldayoff notes that every Saskatchewan potash company has initiated a major expansion project. BHP Billiton is examining the prospect of establishing Saskatchewan's first new potash mine in decades. PotashCorp, the world's largest potash supplier, has infused $1.8 billion in a mine and mill expansion in Rocanville, scheduled for completion in 2012. Another supplier, Mosaic, is spending $3.5 billion to expand three potash operations over 12 years. Up to 50 companies are currently exploring approximately 250 projects in new frontiers such as diamonds, gold, platinum, palladium copper, zinc, nickel and mineralized brines.

The province is also pumped up about oil reserves. Crude oil producer CCRL Refinery in Regina has initiated a $1.9 billion expansion to keep up with expanded production.

Life sciences is another growing sector. In the last decade, the number of life science companies in the province has tripled and employment in the field has doubled. Innovation and research takes place in facilities such as Canadian Light Source synchrotron's new biomedical imaging and therapy facility, Petroleum Technology Research Centre, and University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), which is building the International Vaccine Center (InterVac), a $140 million vaccine research and development facility, expected be the largest Containment Level 3 facility in western Canada.

New capital investment in Saskatchewan is expected to reach $14.2 billion in 2009 says Cheveldayoff, who adds that the province lowered its corporate income tax rate by five points in the past two years and eliminated payroll taxes and general corporate income taxes. The government has implemented a competitive royalty tax system on commodities that takes into account price and production fluctuations, and has committed not to raise royalty rates.
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