Ground was broken this week on $45-million project at the Global Transportation Hub, which its developers say will bring international companies and increased trade to Saskatchewan. 

On Thursday, Saskatchewan-based Brightenview Development International and the transportation hub held a ceremony at the 30-acre site west of Regina to mark the start of construction.

Brightenview says the Global Trade and Exhibition Centre will be home to a number of small and medium-sized manufacturers and entrepreneurs from Asia.

"The GTH for our project, mission and business model is an ideal fit," said Brightenview CEO Joe Zhou.

The company said two of six buildings will be completed by February 2018. Zhou said it will announce the timetable for the four remaining buildings at a later date.

"The first set of businesses to move into GTEC in 2018 will be distributors of electronics, home building materials and general consumer items. Others will export food products made from Saskatchewan agricultural goods," the company said in a statement.

Brightenview said eventually, 300 businesses will set up at the centre. It touts a capital investment of more than $200 million.

"The market's interest, demand and support at this GTEC is phenomenal," Zhou said, referring to interest from companies both in Canada and abroad.

GTEC launch

An artist's rendering of the Global Trade and Exhibition Centre next to the 30 acres of GTH land it plans to occupy. (CBC)

"I've had some very good discussions with Brightenview over the past number of months and we're really optimistic," said Jeremy Harrison, minister responsible for the GTH.

"I think this is going to be a very positive project for the city of Regina, for the entire province." 

Why the GTH?

Zhou said a number of factors played a role in choosing the GTH as a location for his project, including access to road and rail and the hub's designation as a foreign trade zone.

"Businesses that export and import can cut red tape and reduce or eliminate trade barriers by operating in a foreign trade zone. This means lower operating costs and the ability to get goods to market faster and more efficiently," Brightenview said in a statement.

In 2015, the provincial government received approval from the federal government to create a foreign trade zone at the GTH. 

Dundurn project 

This isn't the first time Brightenview has proposed a multi-million dollar project in Saskatchewan. In 2012, it announced plans for a mega-mall in Dundurn with space for 350 Chinese retailers. That project has not yet materialized.

But the company's CEO said it has not been scrapped.

"We will continue working on the economics of the Dundurn project on our own timetable and to provide the kind of growth opportunity to the investors and market interests," Zhou said.

li-artist-drawing---dundurn

An artist's interpretation of a proposed shopping complex in Dundurn, Sask. (Brightenview Development International Inc. website)

In September 2014, Brightenview held a sod turning in the Chatham-Kent region of Ontario to announce it was building a Global Development Centre.

But in 2016, the land was turned back to the municipality and Brightenview forfeited its $40,000 deposit.