Economic Development Regina launches agriculture and food innovation strategy

Economic Development Regina sees big potential in the city's production and distribution sectors.

The organization formally presented it’s new agriculture and food innovation strategy this week.

The goal Monday evening was clear; Regina will become a hub for both agriculture and food production, processing, and innovation. All in the next decade.

“It’s ambitious, it’s audacious, but it is possible,” said Marco Coppola, business development manager at Raven Industries, an agriculture technology company. “And I think we absolutely have the capacity to achieve that goal.”

The theme of the announcement was collaboration, as the steering committee for the strategy consists of representatives from all aspects of agriculture.

“This strategy is so important because agriculture is the back bone of our community,” said Kyle Jeworski, President and CEO of Viterra North America and member of the steering committee. “If you look at the employment that agriculture creates today and the employment opportunities in the future, it’s very important to develop a strategy like this and that we have all stakeholders involved to ensure success.”

Provincial Minister of Agriculture David Marit spoke about recent advances in the agriculture sector around Regina and how the new strategy will foster even more growth.

“Obviously you’ve seen the announcements over the last few months with the canola crush facilities and Red Leaf, with their plant as well,” he said. “It’s important for us to really recognize that, but it’s really nice to see the city really grasp that and work with that in collaboration because the growth is obviously going to have a huge impact on the city as well.”

Jeworski also spoke about how the stakeholders represent voices from across the industry.

“Like ourselves at Viterra, where we’re involved in dealing with farmers, agricultural production, some processing. But you also have equipment, you have artificial intelligence, you have so many different industries that I think that it’s important for this strategy that we’re able to tap into leaders from all different areas.”

Among the stakeholders are representatives from Farm Credit Canada, Brandt, AGT, O&T, Conexus, the Hill-Levene School of Business and many more.

Regina’s location and access to markets were also mentioned as being substantial advantages.

“The best farmland in the province is around the city of Regina,” said Marit. “But it also has some great transportation links too. It’s got the number 1 highway, it’s got the Global Transportation Hub, and the Regina Bypass. So, you’re going to see an awful lot of trucks coming into the city of Regina. Hauling canola in and hauling products out as well.”

Mayor Sandra Masters commented on the city’s role in the new strategy going forward.

“We have a responsibility at the city to continue the partnerships that have grown over the years,” she said. “In terms of investing in infrastructure, but more than that, it requires an attitude where we look to be favorable for businesses to operate in. We need to be a place that young people want to come and practice the trade of Ag-Tech innovation.”

Jeworski is optimistic about the future of the strategy, admitting that they are playing to their strengths.

“We’re not developing an industry from scratch here, this is an industry that we have strength in,” he said. “So, I think we’re building upon the strengths.”