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The provincial government has reached a deal with Canadian real estate developer Focus Equities Inc. to lead development of the rail-served industrial project at CentrePort Canada, it was announced Friday. Construction is set to begin in the coming months.

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The CentrePort Canada Rail Park is expected to provide a critical stimulus for significant economic growth, trade, business attraction and investment, job creation and increased tax revenues for Manitoba. Focus Equities projects that the economic impact of the project could exceed $3 billion with the province predicting it will create over 4,800 jobs.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, our government is focused on working with our economic development partners, industry and trade to unlock Manitoba’s true economic potential,” said Premier Heather Stefanson in a release. “This development, in the heart of the country, will support our vision to make Manitoba a true trade gateway nationally and internationally. Expected to create more than 4,800 direct and indirect jobs and have a significant impact on the province’s GDP, the rail park project will help us bolster our economy and attract new businesses, now and well into the future.”

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The 665-acre rail park is located within CentrePort Canada, a 20,000-acre inland port project and the largest trimodal inland port in North America. It will offer globally connected businesses with large-volume shipping needs the ability to access, transfer and transport goods between road and rail, with close access to Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

The CentrePort Canada Rail Park project builds on the advantages of Manitoba’s central North American geographic location and will play a critical role in enhancing and growing Manitoba’s trade and investment attraction profile domestically, within North America and across the globe, the premier said.

“With global supply chain issues affecting the industry, there has never been greater demand in North America for a centralized logistics and shipping location for rail, truck and air than now,” said Ken Mariash, owner of Focus Equities Inc., a Canadian developer with vast build-to-suit experience with industrial and Fortune 500 companies, including IKEA, Walmart and Loblaws. “We are already in negotiations with global brands who are interested in choosing our rail park land for their transportation infrastructure needs. Focus Equities is thrilled to be awarded the CentrePort Canada Rail Park project is honoured that the Province of Manitoba and CentrePort Canada Inc. has chosen our group.”

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Mariash added that there is more good news in store for Winnipeg and Manitoba with Canadian Pacific Railway’s acquisition of Kansas City Southern. If approved by the U.S. regulator, it will be North America’s first single-line railway to stretch across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“All inland ports have rail at the heart of their developments and the CentrePort Canada Rail Park is the linchpin in realizing the vision for a true tri-modal inland port – and North America’s largest – right here in Manitoba,” said Diane Gray, CentrePort Canada president and CEO. “As an integrated rail corridor connecting Canada through the U.S. to Mexico comes to fruition, significant opportunities exist for CentrePort to continue to grow and offer solutions to companies that manage part of their supply chain by rail. We are excited to work with Ken Mariash and the team at Focus Equities Inc. as they use their wealth of expertise in industrial real estate development to bring this project to life.”

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In 2018, CentrePort Canada Inc., with the support of the Manitoba government, issued a Request for Proposal to attract a private developer for the rail park project. Focus Equities Inc. was selected as the most experienced and qualified developer following that process. The company provides a full range of development, investment, financing, construction and operation of complex real estate, energy and infrastructure projects.

“This development, strategically situated at the hub of international trading corridors, capitalizes on Manitoba’s historical strengths as a leader in trade and transportation and positions the province as a key player now and well into the future,” said David Filmon, chair of CentrePort Canada’s board of directors.

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Twitter: @SunGlenDawkins

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