The GTH: Connecting Saskatchewan with the World

GTH: A Modern-day Trading Post

Photo by Greg Huszar

As Bryan Richards looks out at the 1,800-acre expanse of the Global Transportation Hub (GTH), he sees progress. It’s visible in the massive CP Rail intermodal rail facility; in the 1-million-square foot Loblaw distribution centre; in the web of custom-designed roadways that connect transportation companies to GTH tenants and the interprovincial highway system, including the soon-to-be-completed Regina Bypass.

Significantly, it’s also visible in the growing list of companies establishing a presence at the GTH, recognizing the facility as a key portal to trade and transportation opportunities across Western Canada and around the world.

“The GTH is unique in Saskatchewan; a concept built on the understanding that trade is fundamental to our economy,” says Richards. “This province has what the world needs – particularly in food, fuel and fertilizer. But we also have innovation and manufacturing. We have ideas and the space to see them grow. We are crossing an important threshold, with more companies exploring ways the GTH can play a role in their importing or exporting growth.”

Richards compares the GTH to a “modern-day trading post” – a central location that brings together established businesses and entrepreneurs who see value in connecting to bigger markets.

“Our province and our country are built on trade,” he explains. “This is like the trading posts that made growth possible over a century ago. It’s a central location where we can move goods and create synergies for business to grow.”

A Unique Opportunity

Unlike many business parks and inland ports, the GTH is a self-regulating facility – an independent operating entity with its own bylaws and governing structure. Companies exploring development at the GTH deal with a single entity focused on delivering a streamlined, cost-efficient process without with multiple layers of government.

“If a business is thinking about how they can better access markets, need more space or better links to transportation, the GTH can help from the very start,” says Rhonda Ekstrom, Vice President, Business Development for the GTH. “Get in touch with us at the idea stage because we can help guide you through the entire process. The sooner we’re involved, the better we can tailor the right solution.”

Photo by Greg Huszar

Ekstrom draws on her own experience in international business to shape the GTH’s approach to development. She describes the GTH team as providing interested businesses with “concierge service,” providing on-the-ground knowledge to facilitate growth.

“We see tremendous opportunities to build trading partnerships with Asia, but there are challenges – language, culture, regulatory processes, travel,” says Ekstom. “We try to eliminate those hurdles. With our “single-desk” approach, it takes one call to the GTH. We connect to our networks – government agencies, trade organizations, local business groups, whoever we need to help open a door or make it easier for a Saskatchewan company looking abroad or foreign companies interested in Saskatchewan.”

The GTH is Saskatchewan’s only designated Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), an important advantage for manufacturers interested in the North American market. International companies can access Canada’s duty and tax relief programs by shipping goods to an FTZ, deferring duties and taxes and persevering cash flow until those goods are shipped to market.

In 2017, Brightenview Development International Inc. broke ground on a trade complex that is expected to attract a number of Asian manufacturers looking for a central location to enter the North American market.

“The opportunity at the GTH was a perfect fit for our business development vision for Saskatchewan,” said Brightenview’s Chief Executive Officer Joe Zhou at the announcement. “In addition to the appealing infrastructure and logistical support, the GTH’s recent designation as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) point in Canada, is a critical value offering to complete our business model.”

Building on a Stable Foundation

Created in 2009, the GTH has spent the ensuing years putting in place the foundation for growth. With CP Rail and Loblaw as its initial cornerstone tenants, the GTH has created a world-class logistics park that is designed to create synergies between manufacturers, rail and transport companies and support services that ensure the smooth movement of goods.

Photo by Greg Huszar

Loblaw was the first company to join after assessing the GTH’s excellent transportation connections for Western Canada. Faced with aging warehouses, Loblaw saw the benefit of centralizing its warehousing in a location with access to modern rail infrastructure and convenient trucking from the West Coast to Northern Ontario.

“Because of our location and access to rail, Loblaw was able to centralize their distribution system and better manage their supply chain for 250 locations,” explains Ekstrom.

The CP Rail intermodal facility completed in early 2013 opens the door to a broader transportation network, providing convenient access to seaport facilities on Canada’s west and east coasts.

Other transport companies recognized the GTH’s potential as a logistics hub. Consolidated FastFrate offers cross-dock and less-than-load transportation solutions from the GTH to major Canadian cities. Future Transfer provides a specialist in third-party logistics, warehousing, packaging and distribution services. Slinkemo Enterprises is the go-to for container storage, drayage, transport, maintenance and handling services.

“Because of the strategic mix of tenants, we offer greater synergy as companies can use existing tenants’ services right onsite,” says Richards. “With our location and our services, plus the services offered by GTH tenants, we’re the place for business and industry to reach the world, and bring the world here. No matter your needs, we can make your business more dynamic and competitive and better equipped for the global marketplace.”