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IW Business Bulletin – February 10, 2023

DEEP Earth Energy Project. Photo provided by DEEP.
DEEP Earth Energy Project. Photo provided by DEEP.

DEEP Earth Energy Production facility announces construction

DEEP CEO Kirsten Marcia

DEEP CEO Kirsten Marcia

DEEP Earth Energy Production (DEEP) has finalized its strategy for construction of its first geothermal project in southeast Saskatchewan. According to DEEP, engineering and procurement work has begun on the project, and field construction will begin in the third quarter of 2023.

The project is expected to be the “first Canadian 100% naturally sourced geothermal power facility,” planned over two phases. Phase 1 will see the construction of a 25 megawatt (MW) power facility, with 5 MW constructed first with a power purchase agreement with SaskPower. Phase 2 will include another 20 MW at the same location. First power production is expected to start by summer 2024.

“We are a go,” said Kirsten Marcia, DEEP’s CEO. “There is a market that is hungry for truly sustainable, renewable power projects. The technology is proven, the leases are in place and initial government funding is confirmed.”

First Nations Bank of Canada names new CEO as Keith Martell prepares for retirement

Saskatoon-based First Nations Bank of Canada (FNBC) announced Feb. 7. that its long-time CEO, Keith Martell, will retire this summer. FNBC’s incoming COO, William (Bill) Lomax will join the bank on March 1, 2023 and take over the CEO position on May 1, 2023. Martell will remain with FNBC in an advisory role until July 31, 2023.

“FNBC has had a lot of success and is poised for more,” said Lomax. “We have an opportunity to transform this organization into something more than what it is today – thinking of it as a financial services firm that is more than a bank. We want to continue to do the good things FNBC has always done but also expand the opportunities and services it provides to Indigenous people.”

Lomax comes to FNBC from Goldman Sachs in Seattle, WA, where he held the position of vice president, wealth management. He is a member of Gitxsan Nation and grew up in Terrace, B.C. Lomax earned his law degree at the University of British Columbia and a Master of Business Administration (Finance) degree at Columbia University in New York, NY.

“This transition is an important step in the evolution of FNBC,” said FNBC Board chair Dr. Bill Namagoose, C.M. “Mr. Martell had the vision, skills and determination to successfully launch FNBC and Mr. Lomax brings the skills and experience to take us to a new orbit. They share a passion for improving the economic well-being of Indigenous people and we are excited about this next stage of development.”

Martell departs FNBC as the bank’s first-ever CEO, leading the organization from its inception in 1996. During his tenure, he oversaw the bank’s growth into five provinces and three territories, with assets now at $1.2 billion. He also oversaw the development of FNB Trust in 2020.

“We wanted to build a bank that recognized the needs and interests of Indigenous people – and we’ve done that,” said Mr. Martell. “We are at an inflection point that will allow FNBC to expand what we deliver and we have the team in place to drive long-term change. All this is possible because of the support we’ve had from our shareholders, employees, customers, communities, and business partners. I thank each of you for helping us become the bank and trust we are today.”

YQR welcomes new restaurant and retailer

Brioche Dorée, YQR.

Brioche Dorée, YQR. Photo provided by RAA.

The Regina Airport Authority (RAA) announced the opening of a new restaurant and retail location at YQR this week. The Brioche Dorée was previously located on the airport’s upper level upstairs past security. It’s now moved to its newly constructed space on the main floor in the arrivals hall.

As well, YQR has welcomed local retailer Brick + Mortar with a new location next to the departure escalators on the main level. Brick + Mortar offers airport travellers and visitors a selection of items from local brands like 22Fresh, Hillberg & Berk, The Everyday Kitchen, Queen City Cakes, and Rebellion Brewing.

“We’re really excited about the service and quality of products available now at YQR,” said Justin Reves, manager of customer experience and marketing, “We love seeing families having a meal before saying goodbye or travellers finding great local gifts. We’re not done yet, but this a great step forward.”

Westland Insurance acquires Moose Jaw’s Heritage Insurance

Surrey, B.C.-based Westland Insurance announced Feb. 9 that it has acquired Moose Jaw’s Heritage Insurance as of Feb. 1, 2023. Heritage Insurance has been operating in Moose Jaw since 1982.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Niche Assurance and Heritage Insurance to the Westland family,” said Jamie Lyons, Westland president & CEO. “Mark Pedicelli and the Niche team are passionate insurance professionals, and Heritage Insurance – under the leadership of Greg Marcyniuk – has an exceptionally strong orientation towards client experience. We feel tremendous cultural alignment with both brokerages and are grateful for the opportunity to continue our growth in Quebec and Saskatchewan with such outstanding teams.”

Saskatchewan Research Council signs MOU for rare earths

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with South Korea’s Star Group Ind. Co. Ltd. on Feb. 10. The signing occurred at Star Group’s permanent magnet facility in South Korea during a Government of Saskatchewan trade mission to southeast Asia.

“Global engagement is a key part of reaching Saskatchewan’s goal of becoming a rare earth hub through our government’s $51 million dollar investment into the SRC Rare Earth Processing Facility,” said Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “This MOU shows the significant international reach that this facility already has and the strength of Saskatchewan in the global market.”

Star Group produces high-performance Nd-Fe-B permanent magnets at the only integrated Nd-Fe-B magnet manufacturing facility in Korea.

SRC is building North America’s first fully integrated, commercial demonstration rare earth processing facility in Saskatoon, expected to be fully operational and selling its products to the market in 2024.

Record ag exports for third year in a row

The Government of Saskatchewan announced on Feb. 8 that the province saw the third consecutive year of record agri-food exports, with a total value of $18.4 billion in 2022. The top export commodities included canola oil, non-durum wheat, canola seed, lentils, durum and dry peas. Saskatchewan’s top export markets were United States, China, Japan, Mexico and Algeria.

“Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry is a model for reliability and innovation, as these export figures show,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said. “Saskatchewan producers continue to make an impact both inside and beyond our borders, as a driver of our provincial economy and as a worldwide leader in sustainable agri-food production. These numbers demonstrate our progress toward the $20 billion agri-food export target in the 2030 Growth Plan.”

Saskatchewan’s agri-food exports are the second highest in Canada, behind Ontario which exported $23.8 billion in 2022.

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