Manitoba town woos investment, immigration from Chinese cities

Pinawa is putting the moves on a handful of cities in China to encourage business partnerships, tourism and immigration.

Delegates from Wenzhou, China — with a population of around 10 million — arrived in Pinawa on June 8

Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park is north of Pinawa, downstream on the Pinawa Channel. (Steve Lambert/The Canadian Press)

Pinawa is putting the moves on a handful of cities in China to encourage business partnerships, tourism and immigration.

The Manitoba community, 110 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg at the western boundary of Whiteshell Provincial Park, is home to about 1,500 people but Mayor Blair Skinner said that doesn't mean it can't relate to much larger cities like, say, Wenzhou, China — home to around 10 million people.

In fact, on June 8, Pinawa hosted seven delegates from Wenzhou for a jam-packed, two-day introduction to the area, showcasing the community's natural beauty and economic opportunity.

"They very much loved Pinawa," Skinner said.

The delegates were entrepreneurs with expertise on real estate, health care and the electronics industry, and they met with the Pinawa and Steinbach Chambers of Commerce, North Forge Fabrication Lab in Winnipeg and the Food Development Centre at the University of Manitoba.

"They're very keen to explore opportunities in the North American market, and generally they have worked in the Vancouver and Toronto area, but never in Manitoba," Skinner said.

"This is a new opportunity for them, which they were keen to explore."

He said the visit went off swimmingly.

"We had our breakfast at the Pinawa Golf and Country Club and they just loved the outdoors," Skinner said.

"They remarked on the clean air and very much loved the boat trip on the [Winnipeg] River, and then the barbecue in the evening — some deer came out of the bush and they were very thrilled to see them."

More delegations to come

The Wenzhou group is the first of several delegations from a handful of Chinese cities scheduled to tour Pinawa and explore opportunities in the area. The next group is set to arrive in a month.

Skinner said the initiative is part of an effort to boost job creation.

"We're looking at diversifying our economy," he said. "We're looking at all the business opportunities we have to offer and also in tourism and education, with business incubators. The idea is to recruit some investment for our community and create some jobs for the region.

"Our economic development officer and the rest of our team are committed to following up and making the most out of the discussions we've started."