BU partners with Westman leaders on effort to attract soybean processing plant to Manitoba

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Brandon University (BU) has joined the Westman Opportunities Leadership Group (WOLG) in its efforts to bring a soybean processing plant to Manitoba.

The Group is composed of a network of community leaders from across western Manitoba. The membership includes leaders from the agriculture industry and other business sectors, as well as community and economic development representatives. The volunteers in WOLG are working together to make the case that Westman would be the ideal location for a major soybean crushing facility.

“Among the core mandates as outlined in our Academic Plan is to work with communities to act as a catalyst for growth and innovation,” said Dr. Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor of BU. “The diverse group of individuals and organizations who comprise Westman Opportunities Leadership Group contribute a vision that will be of great benefit to the region and all of Manitoba. We are happy to contribute our expertise and research capacity for a project that will help to stimulate growth and development for our communities.”

A feasibility study commissioned by Soy 20/20, and ensuing groundwork and group discussions facilitated by WOLG and Economic Development Brandon, have shown that Manitoba is capable of sustaining a world-class soybean processing plant. In 2016 more than 1.7-million acres of soybeans were planted in Manitoba, with the crop expanding rapidly in western Manitoba.

Ray Redfern, Chair of WOLG, said that a significant opportunity is available, but the region must act quickly and utilize its resources in a united fashion to take advantage.

“We at the Leadership Group are extremely pleased that Brandon University is joining us to pursue the attraction of a soybean processing facility,” Redfern said. “The University brings a network of experts to the process that will help validate the opportunity. This agreement provides interested companies with a clear signal of the importance of agriculture to Manitoba and the commitment that is emerging to support the growth of the soybean sector.”

The Rural Development Institute at BU has been involved in several projects to track and analyze innovation and opportunities for growth in rural Manitoba. The BU Faculty of Science also has an established relationship with the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, with Dr. Bryan Cassone currently working on a three-year project to spot early indications of soybean disease.

“We have conducted a great deal of research at RDI that provides rural Manitoba stakeholders with valuable information that is being used to drive growth throughout rural Manitoba,” said Dr. William Ashton, Director of RDI. “We have already been in contact with many business and community organizations that would welcome and benefit from a project of this magnitude being located in the region. We are looking forward to cultivating and expanding our partnerships to generate and share knowledge that will lead to informed strategies and continued progress in Manitoba.”


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