Tours to connect northern, southern business

A newly announced tour that will connect business people from southern Manitoba to northern communities is expected to come to Flin Flon in fall 2019.

Northern Economic Development Tours are a partnership between the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the Government of Manitoba and the Government of Canada that will bring groups of business people from Winnipeg to communities north of 53 and showcase what they have to offer.

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“The concept is simple,” said Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

“What we’re trying to provide is opportunities for business people that may not otherwise go to northern Manitoba, to go.”

The idea comes out of the Look North initiative, and also from an experience Davidson had at a northern economic development conference held in Winnipeg.

“Northerners came down to Winnipeg, and I had this question. If we were to hold this in Flin Flon, how many people in Winnipeg would come? The answer is always a resounding zero,” said Davidson.

“The challenge is, if I’m a business owner and looking at potential opportunities in Flin Flon or Thompson, do I just get in my car, drive seven hours north, drive around and hope I get to see the opportunities?”

Davidson said the tour organizers would do the bulk of that work, including setting up tours, setting up meetings with local chamber members and mayor and council, and networking events designed to highlight opportunities each northern community has.

The first two day tour will be to Thompson, and will involve meeting with key stakeholders from the area’s main industries, and connecting with the local chamber of commerce. Davidson said the goal is to develop relationships that may not otherwise exist.

“What we find is they’re typically not going to do it on their own. We’re bringing 20 or 25 business people up there, and providing each community with the opportunity to highlight the opportunities that exist, and look at a variety of different economic development opportunities that may be of interest,” he said.

The tour to Thompson has a handful of spots left, and Davidson said he expects it to sell out.

“We’ve had interest from CEOs of companies, construction agencies and associations interested in learning more about northern communities,” said Davidson, adding he believes the tours will be self sufficient and the goal is to offer them on a continuing basis.

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