Winnipeg's inland port "will have a big impact for generations to come," boasted CentrePort Canada's chairman Kerry Hawkins during his first public address at a breakfast hosted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning. The room was filled with Winnipeg business leaders representing all industries that will benefit from Canada's first official inland port. The event was sponsored by Chris Lorenc and the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association.
"Thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, that is the course we are on," said Hawkins, while comparing the project to the Port of Huntsville in Alabama. This area has generated 24,000 jobs and payrolls of over $1 billion dollars since being transformed from a cotton field to an inland port, and the chairman feels the same potential exists right here in Winnipeg.
The address spoke mainly of the immense opportunity being given to the city since the federal government pledged their dedication to the project, scratching a cheque for $212 million dollars for the construction of CentrePort Canada Way, a four-lane highway connecting the airport to Inkster Blvd. and the Perimeter Highway. Updates were also provided regarding the status of CentrePort Canada Inc., where they expect by July to have a CEO in place, and that they have now secured office space and will be moving in soon.
What really stood out in the address was how quickly things have evolved since the legislation passed for the creation of the CentrePort Canada Inc. back in September 2008. Already Edmonton and Saskatoon had been lobbying government for dollars to create their own inland ports, but the hard work of both the Board and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce have made Winnipeg the location of choice.
"It's not yet six months old and there is much more to do," stated Hawkins, but it is clear from the early success and the excitement in the room during the address that the potential can be reached.