Central Plains Inc. getting ready for fall 0
Ken Keith, executive director with Central Plains Inc., and other representatives from the local organization are in Winnipeg for Centrallia, a global forum designed to attract business to Manitoba. (File photo)
While the past year has been a difficult one with cutbacks to Central Plains Inc., the local company that focuses on economic development is still optimistic about the upcoming fall season.
The agency will be participating in Centrallia, an international forum in Winnipeg, in October where businesses and potential clients have an opportunity to hook up.
“It’s almost like speed dating,” said CP Inc. executive director Ken Keith. “You get a list of companies who are interested in doing business, and you get the other companies who would be the service providers. Then, you have the municipalities like ours who are promoting the Positively Portage advantage.”
During the event, companies have about half an hour to market their ideas to other companies who may be interested.
“It gives us a forum to promote our Portage advantage,” said Keith. “We have a lot of advantage that companies recognize, and we also have some healthy business.”
Central Plains Inc. also has three potential ag. business clients it is in discussion with, to determine if there is a chance to work together in the future.
“Agricultural-related produce is going up in price,” Keith said. “The demand is still there. Ukraine has had a terrible crop this year; we (can) take advantage of that. The (local) agriculture industries and ag processing industries are in a healthy condition now. Other countries look at that.”
As a result of the Province’s cutbacks this year, Central Plains Inc. has lost $69,500 in support.
“That funding is now gone and we don’t expect it to be back,” said Keith. “It’s unfortunate, because we were pretty darn lean in service delivery as it was … We have our challenges,” he added.
In the works for CP Inc. are plans to look at the future of the labour needs study that was completed recently for Portage la Prairie. There is a need for a stakeholder or group to find ways to focus on the recommendations of the report.
“That study or report is being used by various groups around the city and municipality,” Keith said, adding that CP Inc. has been in discussions with the local Chamber of Commerce also about the findings.
“I have made presentations to different groups, so they get an understanding of what the labour force is going to look like next year or in five years,” he said.
The study found there is increased need to fill positions across all categories.
“The most highly in demand are the professional, post-secondary education skills,” said Keith. “People with university degrees or specialties in a certain profession.”
Another development in the Portage area that continues to move along is the new Portage la Prairie Mushroom Farms plant -- with composting done in Portage and the production in Oakville.
The plant was expected to open initially in the spring, but there have been some delays with obtaining some key pieces of equipment.
“It will be up and running; unfortunately I just don’t know when,” said Keith. “I’ve toured through there and it looks pretty close to being ready. We’re very close.”