Thursday, March 27, 2008

Alberta's inland port moves forward

It's a story we first came across here on Podunk over the weekend, the funding finally secured and put in place for the Port Alberta concept.

A transportation program which will see the Edmonton area developed as a staging area and intermodal hub for that province, taking full advantage of the Port of Prince Rupert as its gateway to Asia.

The Daily News expanded on the theme with an article in Wednesday's paper.

Inland port idea gets launch money
Port Alberta concept gets vital funding from the federal government
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pages one and five

Less than a week after getting a look at Canada's newest Asia-Pacific Gateway, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce has received a big boost in its vision of building a new intermodal transportation hub.

Last week, the federal government contributed $1.5 million toward helping launch Edmonton's Port Alberta project. The project is being backed by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Edmonton Airport and City of Edmonton in an attempt to promote trade along the northwestern corridor.

Western Economic Diversification Minister Rona Ambrose said developing Edmonton as a major inland trade and transportation hub is one of her priorities, and the money will help fund an industry-led council to bring it to reality.

The goal of the initiative is to develop a major warehousing and air, road and rail distribution hub linking Asia and North America through the port of Prince Rupert. The fact that Prince Rupert is 58 hours closer to Shanghai than any other North American port is something the Edmonton backers have payed close attention to.

Edmonton Airports CEO Reg Milley said Edmonton is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the "tsunami" of trade coming from China to North America.

"Alberta's business environment just got better," said Martin Salloum, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. "In an ever-changing global environment, the communities that will survive over the long run are those that can effectively work together towards a common goal. Twenty years from now, residents of the Edmonton Capital Region will see a more diverse, dynamic economy thanks in part to the Port Alberta partnership and the investment made today by the Government of Canada."

The inland port will also help move goods faster from Canada to Asia, and Salloum said westbound rail containers already are 36-per-cent full when 90 per cent were expected to be going back empty at this point in earlier projections.

Efforts to develop Port Alberta were initiated by Edmonton Airports in June 2006. Along with the airport, the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce have formed a partnership to champion and direct the initiative.

The City of Edmonton has also been a strong advocate for Port Alberta and is also one of three cities that signed on to a memorandum with Prince Rupert and Prince George to ensure the success of the development of the northwest trade corridor.

"Alberta's vibrant economic growth is based on efficient access to North American and world markets," said Ron Gilbertson, president and CEO of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. "Port Alberta will coordinate a strategy to optimize Greater Edmonton's road, rail and runway infrastructure so local industry can maximize growth internationally with new export and back-haul opportunities with Asian markets as well as service vital regional markets in Northern Alberta and the far North. Port Alberta will play a vital role in supporting the growth of companies currently in our region and attracting the firms necessary to help support and sustain our ongoing economic growth."

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