Connecting to a ‘huge frontier’ - Brightenview’s $45M project commences construction
When Brightenview broke ground on its six-building, $45 million Global Trade Exhibition Centre (GTEC) at the GTH, it sent a message about the vast opportunities ahead for Saskatchewan in global trade.
“This is a platform to import and export – a two-way street,” said Joe Zhou, Brightenview CEO at the May 4 groundbreaking. “One-way is not trade. Through GTEC we believe there is huge opportunity to having goods trade in and out of Saskatchewan.”
Referring to GTEC as a “huge frontier”, Zhou explained that the relationship with The GTH will make it easier for international investors to establish a presence in Saskatchewan – an unfamiliar market where language and business traditions can be intimidate barriers to trade.
The Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Minister responsible for the GTH and Minister of the Economy, echoed Zhou’s enthusiasm: “Our government welcomes investment and this demonstrates to the world that Saskatchewan is open for business. Chinese entrepreneurs are investing in Saskatchewan because they see the potential of our province as a gateway for global trade.”
With easy access to major Canadian highways and CP Rail, as well as its status as a Foreign Trade Zone and self-regulating authority, the GTH provides a number of advantages to international companies exploring trade activity in North America.
The unique advantages of The GTH convinced Brightenview to move forward with its project, which is expected to attract up to 300 manufacturers and entrepreneurs who will establish businesses in Saskatchewan as a base to sell into the North American market. GTEC will also house and assist North American enterprises who want to export to Asia.
Brightenview entered an agreement with PCL for the construction project and said two of the six buildings will be completed early 2018, with the first group of tenants taking occupancy of condo-like spaces at GTEC to showcase their products.
“What a wonderful day,” reiterated John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina Chamber of Commerce who was among the 80 participants on hand to celebrate the milestone. “We really appreciate your investment and we really think this concept of direct trade is unique and will pay enormous dividends.”
Regina’s Industrial Market Still Rolling
While Regina’s real estate market may have slowed from the record pace of recent years, demand for industrial land is still rolling at highway speed.
Colliers International recently released its annual survey of real estate markets across the country. As expected, it reflected an increase in office and residential vacancies in Regina, but also showed a very tight industrial market – with the vacancy rate in Regina the third-lowest in the country behind only Toronto and Vancouver.
“For five or six years, we were very robust,” said Glen Hill, Vice President and Partner with Colliers International in Regina. “We’ve slowed, but slowed to what I would consider a normal level – a plateau that is similar to what we used to see. We’re not going backwards.
“There is a positive attitude, especially in the industrial market. If commodity prices jump, we’re going to feel a lot of pressure in our industrial market.”
After a four-year construction boom from 2012-2105 that saw more than 1.2 million square feet of industrial space developed in Regina, less than 200,000 square feet was added in 2016. The amount of existing property absorbed almost doubled from 2015 to 2016 and the vacancy rate dropped.
Hill said there continues to be demand for new industrial development – especially spaces of more than 5,000 square feet with a yard component.
“There is a lack of quality product, especially in quality locations,” said Hill.
Hill sees a unique space for the GTH on Saskatchewan’s industrial land map, with a special appeal to owner-users and tenants with larger logistics needs and access to highways. That appeal of that opportunity may increase in the years ahead as the Regina Bypass moves toward completion.
Distance/Time = Efficiency +Dollars
Adding value is part of the GTH mandate.
When Bryan Richards looks at transportation, he sees a simple equation.
“Everything in transport is basic physics,” says the GTH CEO. “It’s distance over time equals velocity. How quickly you get from zero to 55 (miles per hour) equals time and money.”
With that fundamental principle as guide, Richards says the GTH team is continually looking at opportunities to create efficiencies that enhance the transportation network for their tenants. From innovations in road construction and technology to monitoring policy activity, the GTH is an advocate for companies involved in shipping and logistics.
“Saskatchewan is the most trade reliant province in Canada,” explains Richards. “We need our goods to reach markets for our province to be successful. So we have a real conscious understanding that infrastructure investment is important here on a 20-30 year timeline.”
Building Roads and Relationships
The GTH maintains ongoing relationships with groups like the Saskatchewan Trucking Association and the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association – trading information and insights that can improve transportation.
The changing regulatory environment requires drivers to make more stops and safety checks – all valuable enhancements, but ones that create additional demand for rest stops and passing zones. Added to that is changing technology and an increase in long-combination vehicles on the road, which were factors in the design of the GTH’s road system and the its planned access to highways as part of the Regina Bypass project.
“We made conscious decision with the needs of the trucking industry in mind,” says Richards. “Long-combination vehicles have been embraced and that’s going to increase. When you have two 53-foot trailers plus tractor, that’s 112 feet trying to execute across lanes of traffic, you can have a huge safety issue.
“Our whole facility is designed to cater to that market. We don’t want anyone to get in here and get stuck – not be able to turn around. Everything is designed with free flow access to each client and free flow access in and out of the property.”
An Information Hub
The GTH is not only a transportation hub; it’s an information hub – maintaining an ongoing watch on issues that affect transportation and working closely with industry associations to enhance efficiency.
That includes being an advocate for the trucking industry. As the new administration in the United States introduced policy changes aimed at tightening border security – a decision that could affect the growing numbers of truck drivers who immigrated to Canada – the GTH began monitoring the impact on the industry.
Susan Ewart, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, said there have been reports of border delays, but the impact has not materially affected most drivers.
“There were concerns at the beginning, but it seems pretty quiet now,”says Ewart. “The border agents are more thorough, but it’s not having a huge impact.”
Still Richards says the GTH is monitoring the situation – always with an eye on the equation that distance and time affect the efficiency and profitability of tenants.
“When there are issues that impact trucking or transportation, we stay on top of them,” said Richards. “It’s our job to facilitate transportation – not just on our property, but everywhere our tenants do business.”
Driven by Vision, Passion
As the GTH evolves, it continues to add strength at all levels of the organization, including the Board of Directors. In November 2016, the GTH added four new directors – Zahra Al-Harazi, Brian Manning, Dr. Sandip Lalli and David Sutherland – who bring a wealth of business experience and insight. In this and upcoming issues, The Gateway will introduce our new leadership and share their views on the GTH and its future.
In this issue we focus on Ms. Al-Harazi.
Zahra Al-Harazi is driven by vision; by a history of overcoming challenges; by setting goals and achieving them.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says of her approach to life and business.
It’s an approach shaped by her experiences as an immigrant in two countries, a mother and an internationally celebrated marketer and entrepreneur.
As a child, Al-Harazi and her family left war-torn Uganda and arrived in Yemen as refugees. Growing up an outsider in a different culture, she learned valuable lessons about how to fit in – and how to stand out.
In 1996, with three children, she emigrated to Canada and enrolled at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Three years after graduation, she opened her own business, Foundry Communications, and quickly established a reputation as one of the country’s top marketing strategists and creative thinkers.
“Growing up in Yemen was very different from the life we know in Canada,” she recalls. “I wasn’t from Yemen; I wasn’t one of “them”. It took a long time for me to understand what “them” was. That background certainly shaped what I do. As a child, you want to be like everyone else. Now I make my living helping others stand out.”
Al-Harazi’s achievements earned her recognition as Chatelaine’s Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year; inclusion on a list of Canada’s most powerful women by the Women’s Executive Network; and the Governor General’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her significant contribution to Canada.
She was appointed to the GTH board in November 2016 and sees a world of opportunity ahead.
“The international experience gives you perspective,” says Al-Harazi. “Many GTH partners and prospects are involved in international business. Understanding how other people think – it’s very different from county to country – shaped who I am in many ways. I apply that understanding to everything I do.
Never one to settle into a comfortable routine, Al-Harazi sold Foundry in early 2017 and is now developing a new technology-driven company to support social enterprises.
Consistent with her life’s history, she is eagerly looking ahead to the next mountain to climb – with her new company and with the GTH.
“I’m excited by the opportunity with the GTH,” she says. “We need to focus on the future and invoke pride because our future is very bright.”
Watch Zahra Al-Harazi’s TED Talk on leadership at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xcv9IY-psRI.
Community Event planned for the GTH
The Global Transportation Hub (GTH) and its clients are looking forward to hosting the Cooperator's Ride Don’t Hide event on Sunday, June 25, 2017. This annual community bike event aims to raise awareness and help break the stigma surrounding mental health while raising funds to support essential mental health programs in the community.
It’s expected hundreds of cyclists and volunteers, made up of individuals, work groups and families will register for this year’s edition, helping raise over $1,500,000 nationwide. With 7.5 km of paved, extra-wide roadways, the GTH offers a safe and inviting environment for local participants.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the level of support this event is receiving from the GTH and those clients that operate within that community,” said Shannon Patton, Director of Community Engagement for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Regina Branch who is organizing the event. “Morguard, Loblaw, Slinkemo Enterprises and Sterling Truck & Trailer Sales are among those businesses operating at the GTH which have come on board as sponsors.”
CMHA rides are hosted in six provinces in 35 communities with the aim to engage over 8,000 participants across the country.
“The GTH is proud to come on a venue sponsor for this event,” said Bryan Richards, President and CEO of the GTH. “This is an important health issue that affects millions of Canadians; it makes sense for us to be part of a community event that helps drive a healthier and productive community.”
For more information or to register, visit http://ridedonthide.com/sk/ride/regina/.
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