Gimli and Selkirk Economic Development Tour | Lakeside Tourism and Anchor Industries

Jun 24, 2024 | Economic Development Tours, Front Page

Last week the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) was on the road for the first Economic Development Tour of 2024. This two-day tour, filled with insightful visits and networking opportunities, brought a delegation of business leaders to the heart of the Interlake region, offering a chance to connect and learn more about the economic potential of this area near the shore of Lake Winnipeg. 

Day One: Exploring the Interlake 

Our journey began with a warm welcome session at the Marvelous Meadows Golf & Grill. The day was filled with visits to key local businesses and attractions, starting with Presteve Foods. Here, Dan Walda and Shawn Rolland showed the delegation a demonstration of the automated fish classification system that sorts fish by length and weight to determine pricing. The facility, opened in 2023, sorts up to 50,000 pounds of fish a day, including many fish species and roe. 

Next, we visited Interlake Brewing, where owners Kristin MacCary and Graeme Maclean served a delightful lunch and shared exciting news about their upcoming in-house brewing capacity. The restaurant, known for hosting a variety of chefs, adds a unique flavor to the local food scene. 

Our tour continued to the New Iceland Heritage Museum, where Elva Simundson shared the rich history of Icelandic emigration and settlement in Gimli. We learned about the hardships faced by the original settlers and how the original settlement was only open to those with Icelandic heritage until 1897. 

The day concluded with a tour of the Gimli Industrial Park Airport, led by Brian Renaud and Andy Damm. We learned about the services provided by Prairie Helicopters, and had an up-close look at the Manitoba GL-415 water bombers that can be mobilized quickly from the Gimli airport. We also were able to see the hands-on training opportunities offered at the Air Cadet glider maintenance facility that provides youth as young as 12 years old with real-world aviation experience. 

The day ended with a networking dinner at Lakeview Gimli, attended by more than 60 local business leaders and community officials, including Gimli Mayor Kevin Chudd and Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson. It was a great chance to continue conversations with some of the connections made throughout the day and welcome additional faces from the local business community to meet our delegates.   

Day Two: Discovering Selkirk 

Our second day began at Hawthorn Estates, a beautiful venue rebuilt in 2019 after a fire, using reclaimed logs from the BC coast. We learned about the venue’s success in hosting 85 weddings a year and then heard about the priorities for the City of Selkirk from Mayor Johannson and Sustainable Economic Development Director Tim Feduniw. 

We then visited the Selkirk Wastewater Treatment Plant, where Dan McDermid shared insights into the facility’s capacity and its commitment to sustainability, with the plant utilizing no fossil fuels for regular operation. Additionally, the facility has an area for research and testing, supporting universities and local wastewater treatment businesses such as Nexom to develop improved solutions for the industry. Importantly, Dan also discussed the economic potential of the treated water for various industrial processes, such as solar glass or hydrogen production facilities. 

After lunch at Selkirk Golf and Country Club, our tour continued with a walk through Selkirk’s redeveloped downtown along with a mural tour organized by Red River North Tourism. Shirley Muir highlighted the growing number of women entrepreneurs in the area and the success of events like the Holiday Alley lights in attracting visitors to downtown businesses including social enterprises like Wishme. 

Our final stop was Gerdau Steel, where Rob Sternat led us through the facility that started in 1906 and now produces the greenest steel in North America, almost all from recycled scrap steel. This plant produces steel that is in many buildings around the world including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and employs over 500 people in the area. 

We extend our heartfelt thanks to our bus driver Dave for his skilled piloting of the tour bus. This tour offered invaluable insights into the economic potential of the Interlake region, and we look forward to future opportunities for networking and relationship building with this community. We hope to see you all at our upcoming economic development tours, with the next one heading to uncover the economic potential in Churchill on July 3rd and 4th! 

View photos from the tour!

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