Thompson 2020 provides update as initiative enters its final stage

Project manager says they want to wrap up short-term objectives and finalize roadmap for long-term sustainability by the end of the year

Ever since Thompson 2020 hosted their soft launch back in June 2017, its members have consistently maintained that this project is meant to be temporary. 

Over the next two-and-a-half years, the group pledged to spearhead a variety of short-term initiatives that would help locals contend with the impending job loses that were coming down the pipe from Vale.

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However, with eight months left to go before they reach the finish line, project manager Harold Smith reiterated that their goal has always been securing Thompson’s economic viability well into the future.    

“One of the stories that we’re telling is that when Thompson was established it was pretty much 100 per cent a mining community,” he told the Thompson Citizen on May 7. “But from day one that started to change ever so slowly, to the point where now we’re a northern service centre that has partnerships and provides services to a population of approximately 55,000 people.” 

According to Smith, one of their biggest successes in facilitating this transition thus far is their community investment profile, which outlines Thompson’s attractive qualities for potential investors. 

Even though Smith admits that a lot of their deals with outside businesses and entrepreneurs haven’t worked out, he maintains hope that this document can help provide a roadmap for lucrative deals in the future.

 “It may not result in investment immediately, but it paints a picture for people to open up their eyes about the opportunities that are here and hopefully it will open up some minds for future decision makers.” 

In terms of more tangible accomplishments, Smith said Thompson 2020 has had a helping hand in developing training and education programs to assist locals in adapting to an ever-changing job market. 

Through their partnership with the Northern Workforce Development Centre, and various other groups, Thompson 2020 helped certify local security guards, Class 1 drivers and heavy equipment operators, and is currently laying the foundation for home grown firefighter/paramedic courses

When it comes to projects they want to accomplish before the end of the year, Smith said he is keen on getting zoning proposals approved for development of rural-residential and cottage lots north and south of the city.

“It’s kind of the foundation upon which you can see the community grow and remain sustainable … lifestyle options that encourage people to choose Thompson as a place to live.”

Smith said he also wants to finalize a multi-year regional marketing strategy so that city officials have the tools they need to follow through with Thompson 2020’s lobbying work after they shut down at the end of the year.

“I see Thompson 2020 as a temporary project that launches some longer term things,” he said. “One of them is we need to have, in this community, an ongoing organization that advocates for the right education and training opportunities for northerners.”

To find out more information on Thompson 2020’s ongoing projects, please contact Smith at 204-679-0635 or harold.smith@gov.mb.ca

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