by Riva Harrison
CentrePort Canada is a big deal – in more ways than one.
At 20,000 acres – about the same size as Manhattan – CentrePort is North America’s largest tri-modal inland port. Inland ports help businesses and manufacturers move valuable cargo and consumer goods to markets around the world.
In CentrePort’s case, the area offers a bounty of prime industrial land, a central geographic location, and unique access to rail, truck and air cargo transportation – making it also Canada’s only tri-modal inland port and Foreign Trade Zone.
The incredible size of CentrePort is matched only by the opportunities that CentrePort has started generating for Manitoba. Already, 46 new companies are investing more than $230 million to build new operations and create hundreds of new jobs. There are also more than 1,200 acres of prime industrial land that are moving toward development.
These new industrial parks – located in both CentrePort North (RM of Rosser) and CentrePort South (City of Winnipeg) – include:
- Rail – the new 700-acre CentrePort Canada Rail Park, which is preparing to break ground with its anchor operation BroadGrain Commodities Inc.
- Truck – several new truck-served industrial parks are in the works, with companies already filing applications for more than 400 acres of new projects.
- Air – the Winnipeg Airports Authority is developing 260-acres on the west side of its campus, providing new direct airside co-location opportunities.
CentrePort’s signature project is its new Rail Park, which is being developed west of CentrePort Canada Way and south of the Canadian Pacific mainline. Toronto-based BroadGrain Commodities is the anchor operation in the new Rail Park, investing up to $25 million to build a grain-handling facility and bean processing plant on approximately 30 acres.
“Our overall strategy is to become a global marketer of grains and agricultural products,” says Brian Hazzard, senior VP for BroadGrain. “The fit for this project is as a link to that on-going vision. We see Manitoba as the anchor for this hub. And CentrePort is the perfect location.”
BroadGrain is a major global marketer and handler of grains, oilseeds, byproducts and specialty crops, with international offices in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The company’s CentrePort location will be its flagship operation in Manitoba, as well as a key part of its expansion into Western Canada.
“This is the icing on the tri-modal cake, so to speak,” adds Diane Gray, president and CEO of CentrePort Canada Inc., noting that the new Rail Park complements an already thriving trucking sector and well-developed cargo operations at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport. “We have always said this is a build-it-as-they-come project. And BroadGrain is the ideal anchor tenant.
To date, most of the new construction has been clustered in CentrePort North and around supporting infrastructure projects such as the building of CentrePort Canada Way and the extension of water, wastewater and utilities servicing to the inland port mega site.
One of the newest operations in CentrePort North is Canada Cartage, which recently opened its new regional hub on eight acres and includes a 46,000-square-foot facility with office space, cross dock capabilities and fleet maintenance services.
More than 200 employees will be located at the new CentrePort operation, providing regional transportation, logistics, and fleet maintenance services. This location also serves as a Western Canadian hub for many national and regional support functions.
“With terminals in most major centres, from British Columbia through Quebec, we recognized the advantages of centralizing operations at CentrePort. This is a significant investment in CentrePort and the community at large,” says Tyler Paquin, vice president of shared services, Canada Cartage.
“We’ve only developed eight of 12 acres and have left room for growth within all areas of the facility. We recognize Winnipeg and CentrePort is an ideal and growing hub for transportation services and this facility will help us capitalize on future opportunities.”
CentrePort is also working with a coalition of landowners and developers in CentrePort South to accelerate development in its City of Winnipeg lands. The potential benefits of developing this half of CentrePort are enormous – with a full build out projected to add nearly $1 billion in GDP and create 11,700 person-years of employment from construction impacts only (Manitoba Bureau of Statistics).
Taking a “live, work, play, learn” approach to development means CentrePort isn’t only focused on attracting new industrial operations and creating jobs. The corporation’s plans also include supporting a new residential community on site, partnering with universities and colleges to expand training programs, protecting parks and greenspaces, and encouraging new active transport opportunities.
The goal is to ensure that CentrePort’s continued economic growth will produce benefits for the broader community. And that’s a big deal indeed.
Riva Harrison is the Vice President, Marketing & Communications, CentrePort Canada Inc.