The Westman Opportunities Leadership Group recently received $75,000 in provincial funding through the “Partner 4 Growth” program.

The regional partnership is made up of business, academic and community leaders such as Ray Redfern, president and owner of Redfern Farm Services, who is the chair of the WOLG.

Ray Redfern, president and owner of Redfern Farm Services. He’s also the chair of the Westman Opportunities Leadership Group.

These new funds add to the significant community funding that has been raised over the past year from five-member communities, along with a broad fundraising and participation outreach, all focused on building community capacity and understanding of the opportunity that could come to Manitoba.

“In this case, the community of Neepawa and the Neepawa and Area Development Corporation (NADCO) was instrumental in helping secure provincial funding”, said Redfern in a release. “They led the fund application process and were instrumental in guiding a successful application, of which we are most appreciative. This is another good example of how our five-member communities are working together to a common goal.”

Building off a very successful November 2017 conference in Brandon, the funding provided by Municipal Relations will enable the creation of a multi-community development plan. With three million acres in soybean cultivation in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2017 the conference confirmed there is an opportunity to establish a facility to process soybeans in Manitoba. The conference confirmed broad support for moving ahead and the funding provided will help make this happen.

A design team has been established to guide the strategic development process. This team will deliver a complete strategy that identifies all the activities needed to successfully attract a future soybean-processing plant, including establishing specific outcomes and designating accountability for delivery. Approximately 20 individuals are working together intensively in this effort to deliver a comprehensive program which will be shared with the public at two open houses in later March.

Community participation by Brandon, Neepawa, Virden, Russell and Carberry has been instrumental in building community understanding of the opportunity and a consensus that the time is right to undertake a serious attraction effort to ensure a facility locates here rather than in another jurisdiction. Additional community participation is invited. WOLG also has partnered with Brandon University to support investment attraction efforts.

With files from release