Province backs Westman bid for soybean facility


By Eoin Devereux
Neepawa Banner & Press 

A local group’s effort to attract a world-class soybean facility to the region has received a financial boost. The Westman Opportunities Leadership Group (WOLG) recently secured a $75,000 grant from the province, through the Partner 4 Growth program. The funding is expected to help advance the WOLG’s attempts in attracting a multi-million dollar soybean processing facility to Manitoba.

The WOLG is comprised of business, academic and community leaders from Brandon, Neepawa, Virden, Russell and Carberry.  The volunteer-led group is a proactive investment attraction process, working to attract a world class soybean facility to Manitoba, ideally Westman.

In a media release, distributed on Tuesday, Jan. 16, WOLG chairperson Ray Redfern stated that these new funds add to the significant community funding that has already been raised over the past year, all focused on building community capacity and understanding of the opportunity that could come to Manitoba. In the release, he also specifically singled out NADCO for their help through the process.

“In this case, the community of Neepawa and [NADCO] was instrumental in helping secure provincial funding. They led the fund development process and were instrumental in guiding a successful application, of which we are most appreciative. This is another good example of how our five-member communities are working together to a common goal,” stated Redfern.

NADCO rep Marilyn Crewe said that the funding should be very helpful in putting the group in a competitive advantage.

“This funding will allow [WOLG] to move forward on developing their strategy to attracting a soybean crushing plant,” said Crewe. “Over the next few weeks, a design team will be established to guide the strategic development process. This team will deliver a complete strategy that identifies all the activities needed to successfully attract a future soybean-processing plant, including establishing specific outcomes and designating accountability for delivery.”

With an estimated three million acres in soybean cultivation in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2017, the Westman region is thought to be a good centralized location for this type of facility.