The team of 30 delegates representing the proposed CentrePort Canada project have returned to Winnipeg from their five-day tour of inland ports in Mexico and the U.S. The big question on the minds of many Winnipeg business people, "So what?"
I don't mean to be cynical, but I just can't help myself. When asked about the purpose of the trip, Diane Gray was reported as saying, "We have a large network of stakeholders that all want to see CentrePort succeed. There is no better way to impress on them what we can be in the future than for all of them to see first-hand what success stories look like." Hmmm.... Is it just me, or would you not hope that the team heading the development of Winnipeg's inland port would already have visited an inland port some time in the past? Maybe even conducted some business with these ports once before? Minus Barry Rempel, CEO of the WAA, my guess is the other 29 have not.
Before leaving, Chris Lorenc was quoted as saying, "the trip signals to the rest of the world that CentrePort is open for business," but is it? Do Mexico and the U.S. represent the world? My guess is that beyond the hands they shook during this inland port vacation, that no one else really knows about it. Even right here in Winnipeg, you ask the average person what CentrePort Canada is and most confuse it with the Airport expansion. The CentrePort team better hurry up and paint a bus to run up and down Portage Ave. to educate the market. We all know this seems to be the lead marketing initiative for most major events happening in the 'Peg.
I've had the pleasure of talking with a lot of Winnipeg business leaders regarding Winnipeg's inland port. The confidence in this project from most I speak with is equal to an impotent man starring in his first porno movie. Semi at best.
I do agree with what Dave Angus said upon his return, regarding the importance of creating a greater awareness to the project. I'm really curious what the strategy will be to accomplish this.
I want nothing more than this to succeed and to wipe the memory of Winnport clean from the minds of all whom it disappointed, both locally and abroad. It's our turn Winnipeg! Let's get this right... we have to. This city and its people deserve it.