194 195 increased in population and, in 1881, Portage la Prairie was incorporated as a town. In 1907, it became a city, serving as a regional hub for agri- culture, retail, manufacturing, and transportation. Today, Portage is considered to be a major center for strawberry cultivation and potato processing. Vern May is the Executive Director of PRED, Portage Regional Economic Development, formed in 2013 with a mission to foster an environment which is attractive to investment and growth for both the City of Portage la Prairie and the Rural Municipality that surrounds it. He reports that in January 2017, the city was chosen as the site for a $400 million Roquette pea protein process- ing plant that will create some 150 new jobs. Roquette is a French-based, family-owned com- pany which produces more than 650 by-products from the starch extracted from corn, wheat, pota- toes, and peas. It has operations in 35 countries, but this will be its first investment in Canada. May suggests that Portage is an atypical site for this type of foreign investment, but it was ulti- mately chosen because it is well situated in terms of its proximity to the area’s agricultural sector, and it offers some of the lowest electricity rates PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MANITOBA VERN MAY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PRED AT A GLANCE PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MANITOBA WHAT: A city of 13,000 WHERE: Between the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba in south central Manitoba WEBSITE: in North America. “The other thing that worked to our advantage in terms of energy is that our energy is primarily through hydro-electric power,” he explains. “Green energy, as opposed to the alternate loca- tion they were looking at, which was primarily coal power.” In addi- tion, the province offered some tax incentives to Roquette and some grants for the education and train- ing of the company’s new work- force. May says that the new plant will soon join Portage’s emerging agrifood cluster. “We have McCain Food, here; they deal in potatoes – a lot of your frozen French fries and hash browns,” he reports. “And we also have JR Simplot here, which also deals in potatoes. Between those two employers, we have, roughly, 500 jobs in food processing. Recent- ly, Simplot came to the table and announced that they were going to be expanding their operation, here, and that investment is $460 mil- lion, which is going to double the size of their plant and double the size of their production.” With these two new development projects in the works, May believes that Portage la Prairie has gained a leg up over competing jurisdictions for even more future investment. He says, “It certainly gives us a great