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IW Business Bulletin – May 28, 2021

Canola, Again

Coming on the heels of announcements by Viterra and Cargill, Ceres Global Ag Corp. announced on May 25, 2021 that the company plans to build a $350 million integrated canola processing facility at Northgate, Sask. in the southeast corner of the province. The facility will have the capacity to handle 1.1 million metric tons of canola and refine more than 500,000 metric tons of canola oil annually, serving both food and fuel markets. The new facility is expected to come online in mid-2024 and create at least 50 full-time jobs in the region.

“This is an exciting time for Ceres Global as we position ourselves to take advantage of the unprecedented demand for oilseed crush in North America,” said Robert Day, CERES president and CEO on May 25. “While there are multiple drivers contributing to this demand, the most important is the movement towards green energy and the need for vegetable oil as feedstock for the production of renewable diesel. We have been analyzing canola crush at Northgate for several years as its location along the Canada-U.S. border is ideally located to originate canola seed from our farmer partners, and with a direct connection to BNSF Railway, it provides the most efficient access to the U.S. market and U.S. ports. Our Northgate facility includes a 2.7 million bushel shuttle loading grain elevator and two 120-car loop tracks, providing ‘construction-ready’ infrastructure and shortening the timeline to complete this project.”

“The on-going partnership with Ceres has been great for the community of Estevan and surrounding Rural Municipalities. As Estevan’s Canola Crush facility, we are excited that Northgate will support families for years to come with added jobs and grain delivered to a premium market,” says City of Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig on the announcement.

Capital Influx for Silicon Prairie

This week yielded two major announcement from Saskatoon-based tech companies 7shifts and Vendasta. On May 25, 2021, 7shifts announced it had raised $21.5 Million in Series B funding led by led by Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), the growth equity fund affiliated with Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). The round also featured participation from current investors Ten Coves CapitalRelay Ventures, and Conexus Venture Capital. The company is seeing major growth in new clients, and their network includes more than 500,000 restaurant professionals across 18,000 locations around the world.

“We are deeply appreciative of our partnership with USHG and EHI, both as a restaurant partner and now as an investor, and believe it is a testament to the value 7shifts provides to restaurateurs and their team members,” said Jordan Boesch, CEO of 7shifts on May 25. “As the industry rebuilds, there has never been a more important time for restaurants to get more visibility into labor to improve long-term performance and profitability. Engaging with restaurant staff through data-driven, reliable shift scheduling will be critical to providing meaningful job satisfaction while simultaneously controlling costs, improving performance, and rebuilding the bottom line.”

Two days later, Saskatoon’s Vendasta announced it had raised an historic level of investment – $119.5 million – led by Lugard Road Capital and supported by the Canadian Business Growth Fund (CBGF), and some existing investors. This is the largest venture capital round ever for a Canadian Prairie information and communications tech firm, besting the $40 million record previously set by Vendasta in 2019.

Possible Partnership in Potash

According to reports from sources this week, BHP talking with Nutrien about partnering on BHP’s Jansen potash project. Spokespeople from both companies declined to comment on the talks this week. BHP has been open to partnership on the project previously, as this is the behemoth mining company’s first venture in potash.

In a BHP earnings call in February, Mike P. Henry, BHP Group CEO & executive director said “…Jansen is an opportunity in a commodity we like. Potash is well placed to benefit from the world’s population growth and changing diets. Our significant resource base provides many options and Jansen stage 1, the first of these, remains on track for final investment decision in the middle of this calendar year.”

The Jansen Potash Project is located approximately 140 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

New Partnership for FHQ Developments and Stantec

On May 26, 2021, FHQ Developments and Stantec announced a partnership, creating a new venture – Stone and Arrow Consulting. The new company was formed to explore engineering and design work across Saskatchewan.

“This is the beginning of a partnership that will bring new capacity, equity, and impact for our Nations of the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council as we begin growing this business throughout Saskatchewan and beyond” said Thomas Benjoe, FHQ Developments president and CEO on May 26. “We are excited to be able to offer our customers a new diverse set of services across multiple industries including mining, oil & gas, energy, construction, infrastructure, and consulting.”

Stantec now has 11 partnerships across the country, formed with Indigenous businesses, Indigenous economic development corporations, Indigenous communities, and Indigenous individuals.

“We are excited to partner with FHQ Developments and to make an impact in our communities across Saskatchewan,” said Jennifer Mills, director of operations, Stantec Indigenous Partnerships. “Not only will Stone and Arrow provide engineering and design consulting services, but the partnership will also provide learning opportunities for both groups – sharing culture and heritage, and also technical expertise.”

Upgraded Wireless for Rural Saskatchewan

SaskTel announced on May 28 that the company is investing $4.3 million to upgrade 4G LTE data capacity (wireless network) in 25 rural communities throughout Saskatchewan. Work is set to begin in June and be completed by March 2022. The rural communities impacted include: Abbey, Archerwill, Barford, Bjorkdale, Crichton, Dinsmore, Domremy, Estuary, Eyebrow, Green Lake, Hazel Dell, Kelfield, Kincaid, Leask, Loon Lake, Marriott, Mont Nebo, Peebles, Petrofka, Ponteix, Rhein, Vanguard, Whitkow, Wishart and Wood Mountain.

“SaskTel understands how vital communications services have become this past year, and it’s this awareness that helps drive us to make these important investments in our networks to ensure our customers can take advantage of the economic, educational, and social resources the world has to offer,” said Doug Burnett, SaskTel president and CEO.

Digital Tourism

Tourism Regina and Regina-based travel tech company Krugo launched a new digital tourism guide for the city of Regina. The guide allow visitors to explore Regina experiences and includes  sections on Regina attractions, landmarks, culture, dining, and sample itineraries. Designed to be expanded and updated by the minute, visitors will always find current information.

“Whether you’re from around the corner or across the country – here for a day or lived here all your life – our new guide feature is designed to help you discover an authentic and valuable experience that leave you with a taste of being part of our community,” said Chelsea Galloway, Tourism Regina’s chief tourism and visitor growth officer said. “And as Covid restrictions ease, the opportunities to experience Regina will only get better!”

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