North Central Development played a key role in Ford Canada's decision to locate its extreme cold weather testing site in Thompson. Although the motor giant had conducted testing in the area in the past, key stakeholders in Thompson were determined to beat out potential competitors for the site facility, which would mean extended, long-term benefits for the community-at-large.
In May 2001 these key stakeholder groups – the City of Thompson, the Thompson Chamber of Commerce, the provincial government (Industry, Trade and Mines and Intergovernmental Affairs), local business, and the Thompson Regional Airport Authority – came together to develop and deliver a presentation to Ford.
To create an outstanding presentation a group representing the stakeholders was assembled, with each participant bringing a different expertise to the table. North Central's role was to facilitate the process and bring a business perspective to the initiative. With the assistance of North Central and a wealth of statistical and background data provided by the City of Thompson, the group developed a presentation that conclusively showed their existing testing site had the capacity to expand and that the climate and region were well-suited to meet Ford's needs.
This successful initiative came about through a combination of opportunity (Ford's consolidation plans), resources (human and financial), and capacity (proven ability to partner). The benefits have been twofold. First was the opportunity for North Central to participate and learn about developing a formal industry-specific presentation bid. Secondly the initiative has provided the City of Thompson and surrounding region with a profile to expand and diversify their economy.
An expanded program of testing will commence in 2001, increasing the economic spin-offs of the testing by approximately six months. Not only is this good for the North, it also provides returns for the rest of the province as the transportation of goods and services to support this initiative is distributed throughout Manitoba.
Increased activity has already started in many areas from direct service providers to suppliers. Future plans will be to support not only this initiative but to seek opportunities to expand this type of industry and facilitate other joint presentations.
An opportunity now exists to feature the region as a destination for extreme cold weather testing by using the natural elements as amenities.