The Municipality of Emerson-Franklin has unveiled its long-awaited economic development master plan.
Part of that vision includes capturing the economic potential generated by the Canada/U.S. border crossing at Emerson by partnering with the Province to create an economic development zone on Crown land along Highway 75 north of the port of entry.
"We need economic development in our area. We've been lacking in that. We need commercial development, we need jobs," said Reeve Dave Carlson. "This is one of the busiest border crossings in Canada and in North America, it's the tip of the Mid-Continent Trade Corridor and there's nothing here. We need to take advantage of it...billions of dollars worth of goods pass through our border here every year and there should be infrastructure here to capture that."
The proposed Economic Development Zone would feature a logistics park and an industrial park. That could include cross-docking facilities, warehouses, transport businesses and support for transport such as a truck stop, truck wash and/or repair shop. There is also space for retail like a gas station, restaurants and possibly, noted Carlson, a hotel. Looking beyond, the Reeve says the development could also include things like ag processing facilities.
"We do have a master developer that is working with us. They are extremely interested and they have already had interest from the commercial or business community, and we think the sky is the limit here," added Carlson. "It'll not only be a big economic impact for our municipality, but for the province as well."
Carlson says the Municipality will continue to pursue that strategic partnership with the Province in order to secure that Crown land.
Additionally, the master plan includes a one-of-a-kind online Investors Portal that highlights reasons to invest in Emerson-Franklin, what is available for investment and key sector profiles. All of the proposed development areas have also been mapped out.
"It's really cool because you just click on one of them, and it brings up what the possibilities are for those different areas and how to go about realizing development on them," explained Michelle Richard. Her planning and development firm, Richard Wintrup, worked with the municipality in formulating the master plan.
The overall strategy also includes a Tourism Action Plan.
"We have done a full inventory of all of our assets in the municipality. We are looking at place-making opportunities to take advantage of some of our amenities," explained Carlson. "We're working towards trying to attract more people to visit our area."