Business Bulletins News

IW Business Bulletin – February 17, 2023

Photo provided by Sask Polytech
Photo provided by Sask Polytech

Orano invests in Sask Polytech

Saskatoon-based uranium mining firm Orano Canada gifted Saskatchewan Polytechnic $1 million to support the school’s Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) program.

“We pride ourselves on being an equal opportunity employer. Orano is committed to hiring more women at our McClean Lake operation, ensuring pay equity and advancing women to more senior and supervisory positions,” said Jim Corman, president and CEO, Orano Canada. “Supporting the WITT program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic will help to increase the awareness of career opportunities for women in the mining industry, as well as provide job links to trades that are accessible near their home communities. Orano Mining globally has a target of increasing the number of women in senior roles by 10 per cent annually between now and 2025. We need to be a part of that change.”

The investment will support training opportunities for women in trades across Saskatchewan, expanding access to the program with more mentorship, presentations, training and further access for rural and northern communities. In recognition of Orano’s contribution, the program name will change to WITT – Powered by Orano.

“Thank you to Orano Canada for your generous gift in supporting women entering the technical trades,” said Dr. Larry Rosia, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, president and CEO. “This contribution will enrich the awareness of training and career opportunities in trades and technology for women in Saskatchewan. Our goal is to inspire and encourage the next generation of women and girls to consider trades careers, overcome limitation barriers and ultimately bridge the employment gap between men and women in these sectors.”

The funding will be disbursed over ten years, includes an annual scholarship to an exceptional female student enrolled in a trades or technical program at Sask Polytech.

“Women account for 47 per cent of the Canadian labour force, but represent only 5 per cent of the most in-demand trades across Canada,” said Allison Zerr, WITT program head. “Jobs in these sectors are high paying. This significant contribution from Orano Canada will enable Sask Polytech’s WITT programming to support our female students in meeting their education and career goals. This partnership will open up doors to women interested in trades and apprenticeship training, and provide the supports to help ensure successful outcomes.”

WestJet adds flights

WestJet will begin service to Minneapolis from Saskatoon on June 19. Flights will run Monday, Wednesday and Friday from SKYXE. The airline is also adding additional service from Saskatoon to Kelowna, starting June 2, flying Mondays and Fridays.

“As we build on our commitment to provide seamless and affordable travel opportunities to Saskatchewan, it was an honour to attend today’s celebration that is the result of the collaborative partnership between WestJet, Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport and the Government of Saskatchewan,” said Andrew Gibbons, WestJet’s vice-president external affairs. “WestJet is thrilled to be further investing in Saskatchewan, strengthening the province’s domestic and regional connectivity and creating a new, direct link for business and tourism between Saskatoon and the United States.”

Regina International Airport will also see additional service, with flights to Kelowna on Sundays and Thursdays starting May 31 and direct service to Vancouver six times a week on May 1.

“We are thrilled to once again be increasing our service offerings from Regina with the introduction of new direct flights to Kelowna this summer,” said John Weatherill, WestJet chief commercial officer. “We are entering into an exciting chapter of growth at the WestJet Group and we are committed to providing vital domestic route options to support travel demand across the country.”

Emmertech invests Down Under

Photo provided by Swarmfarm.

Photo provided by Swarmfarm.

Conexus Venture Capital‘s Emmertech agtech fund closed a $12 million AUD Series A round with Australia’s SwarmFarm Robotics. The funding round was led by Emmertech, with investments from Tribe Global Ventures, Access Capital and SwarmFarm’s existing investors, Tenacious Ventures, and GrainInnovate, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) venture capital fund managed by Artesian.

“There is enormous demand for autonomy in agriculture, but today, most solutions unlock minimal potential,” said SwarmFarm CEO Andrew Bate. “The current equipment providers believe that farmers just want to be plucked from the cab or replaced by robotic arms. We believe that farmers want more. They want a technology ecosystem built to address the issues in their locality, a farm-centric system that leaves the lowest possible footprint on their fields, helping them do more with less. They want Integrated Autonomy, so that’s what we’re building.”

SwarmFarm Robotics has developed intelligent robotics for agriculture, using its SwarmBot platform and operating system, SwarmConnect. SwarmFarm’s SwarmBots were deployed last year to “farmers who covered over 1.3 million commercial acres, operated for 64,000 hours, and reduced pesticide inputs by an estimated 780 tons.” The company serves farmers throughout Australia.

“We are thrilled to be joining Andrew, Jocie, and the whole SwarmFarm team as they pioneer the future of autonomous agriculture,” said Sean O’Connor, managing director, Emmertech. “The key trait that drove our eagerness to lead this round was the farmer-centric approach this team is built around and the truly exceptional results their robots have achieved. We met with several farmers who were putting upwards of 3,000 hours a year on their SwarmBot, often leaving them out in the fields for over 24 hours at a time. We believe there’s a future where SwarmBots can be found on farms across North America and worldwide.”

Nutrien releases Q4 2022 and 2022 results

Nutrien announced its Q4 2022 and 2022 financial results on Feb. 15. The company reported net earnings of $1.1 billion in Q4 2022, down seven per cent from the same time in 2021. However, full-year earnings reached $7.7 billion, up from 142 per cent from 2021.

“Geopolitical events caused an unprecedented level of supply disruption and market volatility across agriculture, energy and fertilizer markets in 2022. Nutrien delivered record net earnings and cash flow in this environment due to the advantages of our world-class production, distribution and retail network. We returned $5.6 billion to shareholders, invested in our global Retail network and advanced a number of long-term strategic initiatives that position our company for future growth and sustainability,” said Ken Seitz with the earnings release.

Seitz, Nutrien’s president and CEO, said in the company’s earnings call on Thursday said that it will delay its planned production increase by one year. The company had announced it would reach 18 million tonnes by 2025 but now plans to reach the goal by 2026. Seitz also said Nutrien expects to see potash shipments of 63 to 67 million tonnes in 2023.

Affinity Credit Union closing branches

Affinity Credit Union announced Feb. 13 that it will close branches in Canwood, Sedley, Semans, Simpson and Waldheim in June 2023.

“The decision to close an advice centre is very difficult,” said Mark Lane, Affinity Credit Union’s CEO. “While these locations have historically been the centerpiece of a member’s relationship with their credit union, that reality has changed. Our business realities have aligned with extensive research that signals member habits and expectations have evolved for everyone within the financial services industry.”

The credit union is also closing locations in Lake Lenore and Muenster as it launches a new “East-Central Regional Advice Centre” at Humboldt in March.

Despite the closures, Affinity will still operate 50 branches in 41 communities across the province.

New CFO for Prairieland Park

Prairieland Park announced this week that Donald Player has joined the senior management team as chief financial officer. Player has held several executive roles prior to joining Prairieland, and is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, holding the designation of CPA, CMA.

“We are very pleased to have someone of Donald’s caliber on the senior leadership team and look forward to his contributions,” said Dan Kemppainen, Prairieland’s CEO.

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