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IW Business Bulletin – September 2, 2022

Abex Awards. Photo By

Royal Helium signs supply agreement for space launch

Saskatoon-based Royal Helium Ltd. announced on Aug. 29 that the company has signed a long-term agreement to supply helium for a North American space launch company. Delivery of helium will begin in 2023.

As well, Royal Helium is nearing completion of engineering for its first processing facilities, with construction contracts being awarded now. There are two facilities being built – one at Climax, Sask. and the other at Steveville, Alta.

“We would like to thank our new partner for their substantial commitment to Royal Helium and Royal’s low carbon helium production programs,” said Royal Helium president and CEO Andrew Davidson. “Royal aims to be a leading, greener source of helium for the aerospace, high tech, medical, and manufacturing industries worldwide.”

FHQ Developments sells PLATO Sask

Regina’s FHQ Developments has sold its IT services firm, PLATO Sask, to national IT firm PQA. The deal provided a whopping 1,150 per cent return on investment for FHQ and the 11 First Nations that own the company.

“Today’s sale illustrates the incredible growth FHQ Developments has achieved in the last five years due to the effectiveness of our business model. Our decisions are made to create the greatest economic benefits for our communities, while staying true to our Indigenous value systems,” said Thomas Benjoe, president and CEO of FHQ. “We took a startup tech business, created value in that business, and now we are ready to sell it for a significant return.”

Profits from the sale will be reinvested into FHQ’s portfolio. The company has several new investments in the works, closing by mid-2023. They also have plans for a fund to support the agriculture sector.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the growth and expansion of PLATO Sask Testing, which has supported many Indigenous people working in the software testing sector in Saskatchewan and across the country,” said Jeremy Fourhorns, Tribal Chief and board chair. “These employees will have the opportunity to continue expanding their skills with PQA Testing, and we wish them further success in their careers.”

ABEX Awards finalists and special award winners announced

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce released the category finalists for the 2022 ABEX Awards on Aug. 31.

The category finalists include:
Export Award:

  • Canadian Organic Spice & Herb Co. Inc. (Watson)
  • Three Farmers Foods (Saskatoon)
  • SalonScale Technology Inc. (Saskatoon)

Community Involvement Award:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (Regina)
  • Synergy Credit Union (Lloydminster)
  • The Atlas° Hotel (Regina)
  • Westridge Construction Ltd. (Regina)
  • Wow Factor Media (Moose Jaw)

Growth and Expansion Award:

  • Deveraux Group of Companies (Regina)
  • Farmer Jane Cannabis Co. (Regina)
  • Greenwave Innovations Inc. (Regina)
  • Maven Water & Environment (Saskatoon)
  • Sandy Shores Resort and Marina (Sandy Shores Resort)

Innovation Award:

  • Andgo Systems (Saskatoon)
  • Custom Agricultural Intelligence (Regina)
  • Harbour Landing Village (Regina)
  • Maven Water & Environment (Saskatoon)
  • VeriGrain (Saskatoon)

Marketing Award:

  • Ehrenburg Homes (Saskatoon)
  • Harbour Landing Village (Regina)
  • Regina Plumbing and Heating (Regina)
  • Sandy Shores Resort and Marina (Sandy Shores Resort)

New Venture Award:

  • Custom Agricultural Intelligence (Regina)
  • Farmer Jane Cannabis Co. (Regina)
  • Maven Water & Environment (Saskatoon)
  • Saskatoon Clayworks (Saskatoon)
  • Trestle River Homes Inc. (Lloydminster)

Service Award:

  • Abco Elevator (Regina)
  • Lakeview Fine Foods (Regina)
  • Manila Cleaning Services Ltd. (Saskatoon)
  • Pet Planet Prince Albert (Prince Albert)
  • The Atlas° Hotel (Regina)

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award:

  • Mitchell Willie – Axis Vac and HDD Services Ltd. (Saskatoon)
  • Jillian Ripplinger – Honeycomb Hair Lounge (Regina)
  • Tayler Korycki – Korycki Mechanical Inc. (Prince Albert)
  • Amber Deschner and Kara Montieth – Nova Physiotherapy (Warman)
  • Alicia Soulier – SalonScale Technology Inc. (Saskatoon)

Valerie Sluth, founder and CEO of Praxis Consulting, will be presented with the 2022 ABEX Business Leader of the Year award, and Eric Dillon, former Conexus Credit Union CEO, has been named 2022 ABEX Community Leader of the Year.

Finally, McKercher LLP, a long-time law firm and member of the Saskatchewan business community will be the 2022 inductee into the Saskatchewan Business Hall of Fame.

“Saskatchewan businesses continue to face challenges in the wake of the pandemic as the province works toward economic recovery,” said Prabha Ramaswamy, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO. “It is all the more important now that we recognize the leaders and businesses that make up the backbone of our business community by celebrating their remarkable resilience and successes.”

The ABEX Awards will be held at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon on November 5.

New food brand setting up in Saskatoon

Vancouver-based AgriFORCE Growing Systems Ltd. announced the launch of its new un(Think) Awakened Flour. on Sept. 1. The Agtech firm uses a patent-pending technology to create the flour, which will be available to consumers and commercial customers in late 2022.

“At AgriFORCE, we asked ourselves, ‘What if wheat could give you all the nutrition without the elements that are not as good for you?’ We realized the key to making that happen lies in the way we process grains, so we decided to un(Think) the usual methods—something no one else has done before,” said Mauro Pennella, AgriFORCE’s president of Brands. “un(Think) Foods is bringing a much-desired product to a market eager for healthier, natural alternatives to traditional flours. Our first launch is a stepping stone to continued growth of the brand.”

AgriFORCE is now setting up operations in Saskatoon, with un(Think) Awakened Flour as its first product. The next planned product, Power Flour, is expected to begin production in 2023.
In February 2022, the company announced it had completed engineering work on its Saskatoon manufacturing line with plans to begin production in the second half of the year.

Building permits rise in Saskatchewan

New data from Statistics Canada shows that the value of building permits in Saskatchewan rose significantly in July, hitting $286 million – an increase of 86.2 per cent from the same time last year.

“Today’s outstanding July 2022 building permit numbers are just another sign of Saskatchewan’s continued growth and economic strength,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “Saskatchewan has one of the most competitive business environments in all of Canada, and we will continue to create jobs and opportunities for the people of Saskatchewan.”

The province also saw a 28.2 per cent increase between June 2022 and July 2022, the second highest increase among the provinces.

Coming soon: Ceres Global Ag Q4 2022 results on September 9, 2022.

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