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Page 18 - SASKATOONEXPRESS - November 5-11, 2012

Business Excellence

Regional Economic Development Authority The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) is very proud of the community it serves. SREDA’s three main goals are to retain and expand local business in targeted sectors, to attract new investment in focus areas, and to ensure the Saskatoon region is the place to live, work, invest and prosper. We are “Celebrating Growth” through past successes and the new opportunities that now lay ahead.

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Transportation key to Saskatoon and region’s growth A good transportation industry is “a critical piece of Saskatoon’s economic infrastructure,” says Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) President and CEO, Tim LeClair. In fact, LeClair says that a viable transportation system is “right up there with people” as the most important factor in a strong economy. “The majority of what we make and build and export relies on solid transportation.” Given the city’s location in “the geographic middle of nowhere’ ”, the importance of the trucking industry to Saskatoon, says LeClair, cannot be overstated, especially with its easy access to major transportation routes of the Trans-Canada and the Yellowhead. Location and ease of access both helped the trucking industry to grow organically in the city and then to expand, with now international companies

like Yanke, Ghost Transportation and Risdale having their head offices in Saskatoon. SREDA tries to always have a representative from the trucking industry on its board. “This is so important for SREDA’ ” says LeClair, “because when businesses are thinking of setting up in Saskatoon, one of the first questions they always ask is ‘How do I get my product out of here?’ We can put them in touch then with someone who can give concrete answers.” As the trucking industry in Saskatoon changes and grows, so do other transportation options. LeClair has seen both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways become more focused on executing business plans that pay more attention to how railroads affect the communities around them, along with a willingness to talk about concerns those communities might have. Long-term, SREDA

would like to see both CN and CP develop rail yards outside of city limits where there would be more space for added features. The current airport expansion, LeClair says, is viewed by SREDA as a “critical move. Our airport already gets very good reviews, even being as over-crowded as it is. The expansion is going to almost double the airport’s capacity. This is important not only because it brings people to our city to visit, but it will also attract new development.” The proposed Perimeter Highway and North Bridge project is also one that SREDA is behind 100 percent. “It would alleviate the amount of big trucks on Idylwyld and Circle, especially during rush hour.” But as this will also be the first city project to be in the billions for costs, SREDA, along with the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce and the North Sas-

katoon Business Association, are working together “trying to be creative, to see what we can do in terms of making the financing for this a true publicprivate partnership.” In fact, SREDA and its partTim LeClair, ners have been working President and on funding ideas for CEO of SREDA more than a year now, and hopes to have a proposal package ready for all levels of government soon. Overall, LeClair and SREDA see Saskatoon’s infrastructure as “evolving, and continuing to evolve. And it needs to, because its importance is right up to where our economy’s growth depends on it.”

Meewasin Valley Trail showcases Saskatoon’s beauty Saskatoon’s Meewasin Valley Trail has just been named one of the Top Ten Trails in Canada by Reader’s Digest Magazine. “We’re thrilled,” says Meewasin Valley Authority CEO Susan Lamb. “It’s really exciting. It’s a reminder to us just how beautiful the trail is.” With a recent addition between Adilman Avenue and Kinnear Drive, the trail is currently 66 km long. High-quality upgrades at River Landing and The Weir have also recently been completed, and join the rest of the attractions along the Trail, including the Meewasin Cameco Rink at PotashCorp Plaza, which at one time was voted the best outdoor rink in Canada, again by Reader’s Digest. And while there are other similar trail systems in Canada, Lamb says that the

Meewasin is “unique because of its accessibility. In other cities, riverbanks are often private property that cannot be accessed by the public. In Saskatoon, the riverbank is owned by the city, so everyone can enjoy it. We’re the only trail in Canada with a freely accessible riverbank.” Beyond that, Lamb adds that the trail provides physical activity opportunities for “all ages, young and old, rich and poor, with all levels of mobility. And it really shows the beauty of our city in all seasons, from the colours in fall to the crocuses in spring and the saskatoon berries in July.” And in winter, Lamb says, the City snow removal teams are vigilant at keeping the trail clear, because so many people enjoy winter walking and, in all seasons, many

people use the trail to get from home to work. In fact, the MVA is currently undergoing a survey to see just how many people take the trail to work. As CEO of the MVA, Lamb says that one of the most rewarding parts of her job is seeing “the pride and ownership people in Saskatoon take in the trail.” In fact, the MVA recently gave the public an opportunity for city residents to give their input into how to improve the trail, and Lamb was “thrilled to see people lining up and waiting to give us their opinions. It was really wonderful.” Plans are in place to expand the trail. Within the next two to three years, the MVA LS90498.K05 hopes to have the trail extend to Wanuskewin in the Northeast and to Whitecap Park in the Liza

Southwest, and in that direction the MVA hope to see it eventually go all the way to the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. Lamb says that the MVA also would like to have a mobile application in place that would map out the trail and its attractions for users. Until then, Lamb hopes the trail will continue to provide beauty and relaxation for city residents, and also continue its work as an ambassador for the city. “We hear that a lot of businesspeople who are considering setting up companies in the city are impressed with the beauty of Saskatoon as seen on the trail,” she says, adding that “I think the Meewasin Valley trail is a part of our city’s culture, and gives us a sense of place. It is iconic.”

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SASKATOONEXPRESS - November 5-11, 2012 - Page 19

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John G. Diefenbaker Airport expanding to meet future needs John G. Diefenbaker Airport has been a cornerstone of Saskatoon’s development and economic prosperity over the years. Under the guidance of Bill Restall, president and CEO of the Saskatoon Airport Authority, there has been significant expansion and growth of Saskatoon’s local airport. Restall is retiring at the end of 2012, after holding his position for 27 years. Since his start as president and CEO in 1985, Restall has seen and been has a part of the growth that characterizes the Saskatoon airport. Some of these highlights include retail and food stores beyond security screening, additional bridges to aircraft, improved airside viewing, increased seating beyond security and a business lounge. According to Restall, this expansion could not have come at a better time. “In 1999, when the airport authority started, we inherited a building that was part 1975 and part 1955. So one of the first things we did is we expanded the building and made two buildings one building,” Restall said. “And I think we did an excellent job but, at the same time, we did it conservatively because we were starting as an airport authority and we had only so much cash reserves. So our primary focus at that time was presecurity, not post-security. As it turns out, the building does work great, but it’s time for change. It was built to serve about 1.4 million passengers annually. We’re at over 1.3 million passengers this year, so we’re right on schedule in terms of when we needed to expand the building.” This reflects the current population growth of Saskatoon. In fact, Saskatoon Airport 2012 passenger traffic has been building on top of the 2011 record year, with year-to-date the passenger growth at 7.7 per cent. At the beginning of 2012,

passenger total reached a historic high of more than 120,000 passengers. The growth didn’t stop. “This airport is totally representative of the economic growth that is happening in Saskatoon right now,” said Restall. “The whole trick is, be the driver of your own economy, and that’s where we are. We are a tremendous economic facilitator. We drive a certain number of things because of our construction, but I look at us as a facilitator. We can provide the environment that’s really good to support the economy.” The following month shattered past records, seeing more than 4,000 passengers use the Saskatoon airport per day, according to the spring 2012 Saskatoon Airport Authority newsletter. The newsletter also noted the Saskatoon Airport is now ranked as Canada’s 11th busiest airport. The Saskatoon Airport talked to the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) to get an idea of what the public needed from these upcoming renovations. One of SREDA’s main goals is to ensure that the Saskatoon region is the place to live, work and prosper and the growth of the airport is an indicator of its success in this goal. “It’s twofold from SREDA. Number one, we talked to them a lot and were involved with them because we want to know how we can ensure that the airport can be a good economic facilitator and how can we support the economy. So it’s a research relationship,” said Restall. “The second part of it is the fact that we go to them and say, ‘What does your clientele need?’ What are they looking for, where do they need to get connected to, what works for them in business, where are their business partners coming from?

The new terminal at the John G. Diefenbaker International Airport is planned for a summer 2014 opening So how do we facilitate the business travellers because our economy is what is driving this province and an airport is a very important part of that. And SREDA can provide us with that information.” Restall said that this project, which will cost around $15 million, will wow the Saskatoon public in two phases. Phase one is underway, and will be completed in August 2013. The second phase is to be completed in August 2014. It’s what Restall calls a “natural evolution of the airport.” “People, in the last 15 or so years, want to go through security and then they want that comfort zone. That’s where they want to see their retail; that’s where they want to see their food and beverage. We’re going to do that,” said Restall.

“So people can check in, go through security, get to where their plane is going to leave, and they can sit, buy a burger and a magazine and be comfortable. So that moves us to the next plane. The airport is being built now for about 2.2 million passengers.”

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Page 20 - SASKATOONEXPRESS - November 5-11, 2012

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Regional Economic Development Authority

103 - 202 Fourth Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK CANADA S7K 0K1 1.800.706.1977

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Northern Resource Trucking a groundbreaking enterprise

Northern Resource Trucking (NRT) is like a modern-day Pony Express. The Saskatoonbased company has its trucks hauling to uranium mines in Northern Saskatchewan come rain, snow, shine and roads that are challenging to drive. Founded in 1986, the company has seen steady growth over the years, but goes as the uranium industry goes, according to NRT vice-president Dave McIlmoyl. “The last seven years have seen very strong growth as we try to respond to the growth of both Cameco’s mines and AREVA’s mines.’’ McIlmoyl says 90 cent of NRT’s revenue comes from its hauling contracts with uranium companies. “When they do well, you do well. When they are doing poorly, you don’t do very well either.’’ McIlmoyl is one of the founders of the company and sat on its board of directors until moving into a full-time role in 1998. NRT is 71 per cent owned by northern First Nations and Metis communities and 29 per cent by Trimac Transportation. “We have fairly deep roots in the Saskatchewan uranium mining industry with both of the major uranium producers that are here now — Cameco Corporation and AREVA Resources Canada.’’ The destinations for some of the hauls have changed over the years as new mines go into production and others are decommissioned or facing down time. “Our bread and butter for years is hauling reagents into the producing uranium mines,’’ McIlmoyl said, explaining that reagents are various kinds of bulk liquids and dry chemicals that are used in mining and milling. “We also haul groceries and the general freight they need — anything that goes up to the mine we haul it.’’ Presently, NRT is hauling a lot of freight for construction projects at the Cigar Lake, Key Lake and the McClean Lake mill. “We fluxuate from slow, steady demand when the mills are running and the mines are mining, to fairly frantic construction demands when you don’t know what is going up until the phone rings and you find out you have 20 loads to go here and 20 loads to go there. Things should start calming down by this time next year when Cigar Lake should start being put into production and sending its ore to the McClean Lake mill.’’ NRT has 100 trucks, 230 trailers and 150

employees. Of those employees, 130 are drivers and owner/operators, and the other 20 are office staff and managers. Those drivers face challenges every day. “They’re on terrible northern roads. The trips we take are on so-called all-weather gravel roads. We have challenges with weather when there are no services.’’ While hauling is, as McIlmoyl said, the company’s bread and butter, NRT has diversified. The company has an Imperial bulk fuel distributorship in La Ronge and a truck driver training school, also in La Ronge. At the school, students can earn licences to drive various classes of trucks, as well as forklift certification and school bus endorsements. “We have a fairly good-sized training school there,’’ he said. The school is part of NRT’s mission to hire young Aboriginal people. “We have 25 per cent northern Aboriginal employment here; we are trying to bring Aboriginal people into the economy, give them training and jobs because that is in Saskatchewan’s and Saskatoon’s interest. Everyone is crying for labour, and if we can find a way to incorporate the young Aboriginal folks into the economy, it is a win-win for everyone.’’ McIlmoyl said being headquartered in Saskatoon and being members of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) is good for the company. “It is always good to join the organizations that do the lobbying and business development and that sort of thing. And it is always good when, as a Saskatoon-based business, we can work with other Saskatoon-based businesses to promote the city and the area and lobby with government for all sorts of different things. “SREDA has been a very good partner in business for us. Saskatoon is a great city to live and work in; it’s growing, it’s expanding. I don’t think people realize how many mining-related services there are in the north end of Saskatoon, and how many companies make things that go up to the mines and how much mining expertise there is. “If you go around the world, you will find mining engineers who have worked or have been trained in Saskatchewan. Mining is a very significant part of this province’s economy. Uranium mining is tucked way up north and hardly anybody, other than those involved in the business, know that much about it.’’

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