Province eyes investment from Midwest metropolises – Winnipeg Free Press

Chicago and Minneapolis — Manitoba wants you to come over.

On Thursday, the Manitoba Real Estate Association launched its first campaign to attract business development to the province.

“We really are working in a Team Manitoba approach,” said David Salvatore, the association’s CEO.

‘We are working on a team approach,’ says David Salvatore, CEO of the Manitoba Real Estate Association. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

The goal is to draw United States realtors’ attention to Manitoba. By doing so, business investment may come to the keystone province, Salvatore said.

The roughly $100,000 digital campaign promotes Manitoba as having a “stable, diversified economy” with competitive real estate costs and a “highly trained workforce.”

A new website positions Manitoba as a research and development hub with advanced transportation networks.

The MREA is targeting realtors in Chicago and Minneapolis who visit the American National Association of Realtors website.

The two southern cities are key trading partners, Salvatore said.

Realtors – or businesses – can contact the MREA through its new website, which they might reach via targeted ads. The association will connect inquirers with Economic Development Winnipeg or its rural counterpart, Rural Manitoba Economic Development Corp.

“We look at things like Simplot, and the pea processing plant in Portage, and the amount of investment (those) created,” Salvatore said, adding the community has seen spin-off benefits in housing and commercial development.

JR Simplot’s $460-million facility expansion, plus Roquette’s $600-million pea plant, created hundreds of jobs and plenty of investment in Portage la Prairie. Both began construction in 2018.

The MREA is expecting its ads to pop up around 100,000 times in the first couple of months.

The pandemic did not lead to the campaign’s creation, Salvatore said.

There’s always a need for foreign investment — pandemic or not, said Dayna Spiring, Economic Development Winnipeg’s CEO.

The province wants to ensure its competitiveness from a taxation standpoint, says Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

“We’re constantly looking at real estate, we’re constantly looking at where to put companies that want to invest in our city and our province,” Spiring said.

A shift to remote work likely won’t dampen the new campaign, she said. Economic Development Winnipeg is liaising with manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries.

“Those people don’t have the opportunity to go hybrid,” Spiring said.

Winnipeg is marketable as a “big little city,” she noted. Commute times and the cost of living, when compared to metropolises like Toronto and Vancouver, give Winnipeg an advantage, she said.

More than half of foreign-owned businesses in Manitoba are run by Americans, Spiring said.

“By having better links with places like Chicago and Minneapolis, we can go to customers and suppliers and associates of those companies and say, ‘Hey, maybe you want to think about being in Winnipeg,'” she said.

The current MREA campaign will end in December. Then, the association will “assess things and retool” and reinvest next year, Salvatore said.

The target audience may expand beyond the two American cities.

Rural Manitoba’s economic growth has been building despite a “pause” during the pandemic, according to Margot Cathcart, CEO of Rural Manitoba Economic Development Corp.

“COVID was a complication… but I’m expecting there to be lots of great announcements to come,” Cathcart said.

She heads a less than two-year-old organization. It will receive Americans’ requests from the Manitoba Real Estate Association and will link realtors and potential settlers with Manitoban communities.

Manitoba’s economic growth has been building despite a pause during the pandemic, says Margot Cathcart, CEO of Rural Manitoba Economic Development Corp. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

“It’s part of providing that concierge service,” Cathcart said. “It’s (delivering information like) ‘What’s the tax base? Can they get employees? How do they deal with the transportation of raw goods?’”

Labor shortages are a problem in Manitoba and beyond, both she and Premier Heather Stefanson noted.

Manitoba’s unemployment rate was 3.5 per cent last July, the province’s lowest on record.

Tapping into immigration and Manitoba’s underrepresented populations, and developing training programs, are part of what’s needed to address such shortages, Cathcart said.

“We also want to make sure we’ve got a competitive environment here that’s conducive to attracting businesses to Manitoba, making sure that we’re competitive from a taxation standpoint,” Stefanson said.

The MREA is working to attract business from abroad because it feels various industries can support provincial economic growth, Salvatore said.

The real estate association’s new website is

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Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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