Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Edmonton business leaders seek a close rrelationship with Rupert

Seventeen directors from the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Centre were busy in Prince Rupert over the last two days, getting a better understanding of the trade opportunities that Prince Rupert offers to Asia and eager to create relationships to benefit both communities.

Taking part in their annual retreat, the directors were provided with a tour of Ridley Island and the Fairview container Port, key ingredients to the Port Alberta concept that they have created in that province to better enhance Alberta's trade with the world.

In a front page story in Monday's Daily News, Leanne Ritchie featured some background on their visit and details on how they would like to see the relationship with Prince Rupert grow into the future.

Alberta companies want to work with Prince Rupert on trade with Asia
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Pages one and two

Prince Rupert and Edmonton are two cars on the same train when it comes to building a relationship with growing overseas economies.

That was the message Patrick LeForge, chair of Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Centre, brought to the business community Monday morning.

"Edmonton and Prince Rupert aren't very far a part in terms of our challenges to grow and to survive. It's a place where people want to invest in their businesses and families and be attractive to their customers," he said.

Some 17 directors from the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Centre are in town Monday and Tuesday for their annual retreat.

They will be touring the port facilities before heading on to Prince George to view CN Rail's inland container terminal.

LeForge, who is also president and CEO of the Edmonton Oilers, said the Edmonton Chamber is one of the partners working toward developing the Port Alberta concept; an inland port and multi-transport facility near the Edmonton airport that would allow the region to handle incoming and outbound trade with Asia.

"Port of Alberta is an opportunity for the enhanced economic diversification of the economies of B.C. and Alberta. The port of Alberta started as an obscure vision ... that has transformed into a formal commitment to develop the airport into a major North American multimodal hub in road rail, pipeline and air transportation throughout the region with marine ports like yours on the West Coast," said LeForge.

"I don't have to explain the potential of opening the Port of Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal to anybody in this room, it exemplifies the potential of Prince Rupert as a gateway city. The advancements you have made are very similar to what we are striving for. The opportunities that are developing because of the enhanced Asia Pacific Western Canada Transportation corridor are huge."

"This is a mega opportunity and I can't stress enough the need to work and play together. The size of the opportunity will be determined by the ability to network together," said LeForge.
He noted that businesses in the Edmonton region are discussing the potential to containerize everything from bitumen to value-added products in order to take advantage of the growing Asian economies.

"It (China) will inhale what we have to offer like it was dust on the road in our carburetors. It needs that energy to survive.

"We will either plan for it or be a bug on the windshield. Nobody on this plant has seen anything like China before and we are all kind of speculating what it will look like. It will be all of your forests, all of our oil and all of our coal, inhaled in 50 to 100 years. It will take that to develop that," he said.

"There are literally thousands and thousands of containers that need to be transported to and from Asia and North America through your port and working together we see that container pipeline flowing. This is on our radar screen big time."

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