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Federal economic development agency opens Thompson service centre

The office is one of seven that will be established in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta by PrairiesCan, part of what used to be Western Economic Diversification.
prairiescan thompson service centre opening group photo aug 4 2022
Federal Northern Affairs minister Dan Vandal, second from right, poses with Becky Cianflone of the University College of the North governing council, left, Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook, second from left, elder Phillip Michelle, centre, Thompson Community Development Corporation executive director Connie Krahenbil, seated, and UCN president Doug Lauvstad, right, following the official opening of PrairiesCan’s new Thompson service centre Aug. 4.

The federal government officially opened Thompson’s PrairiesCan service centre Aug. 4 and highlighted some of the projects the economic development agency has funded in the region.

The office, located in the Communities Economic Development Fund on Moak Crescent, is the first of seven new offices for the agency to open, said Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, who was in town for the launch.

Created in 2021 when the federal government split Western Economic Diversification into two separate entities, one focusing on the Prairies and the other on British Columbia, PrairiesCan’s mission is to help local and regional economies grow and diversify.

“Together with our partners, some of whom are here today, we will sharpen our focus on the economic realities of the world and make smart investments in projects that will accelerate economic growth, create jobs and reach more communities,” said Vandal.

Funding highlighted by the minister at the launch includes $364,000 from the community economic development and diversification program for the Thompson Community Development Corporation to grow the winter weather testing industry in the city.

“We got some funding for our Winter Weather Testing Centre of Excellence and we’re very excited,” said the development corporation’s executive director Connie Krahenbil.

PrairiesCan’s community revitalization fund is supporting the creation of outdoor Indigenous gathering spaces at University College of the North campuses in Thompson and The Pas through a $382,500 investment.

“These spaces are crucial for celebrating students’ success, academic achievements and for allowing our communities to have a place to gather,” said UCN governing council chair Becky Cianflone. “We will be celebrating the culture of the north at our institution.”

CEDF has also benefited from PrairiesCan spending, having received $100,000 to deliver digital training and coaching to Northern Manitoba tourism businesses in Thompson, The Pas and Flin Flon during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seeing an office open in the north is exciting and further evidence of PrairiesCan’s support and influence on economic development in Northern Manitoba,” said CEDF CEO Chris Thevenot.

The agency’s regional relief and recovery fund helped at least on Churchill business weather the economic storm unleashed by COVID-19, through a deferred payment loan to Frontiers North Adventures.

“[The loan] made it possible for our travel company to keep our team together, communicating with guests, and planning and replanning our recovery,” said Frontiers North CEO John Gunter. “As a result, when it was safe for foreign travellers to return to Canada and to Churchill we were prepared to host them.”