Finding New Markets in your Own Backyard

Often when we think of business growth, we think “exporting” to western Canada, or into southern Ontario, or to the US or maybe Mexico.

We don’t often think of exporting or growth opportunities within our own province. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) has made it one of their missions to change that with their Economic Development Tours.

These tours provide southern Manitoba business owners with an affordable way to travel to northern Manitoba communities/regions and discover business opportunities that exist in their own backyard. Site visits, presentations and meetings with the region’s business and community leaders provide participants on the Tour with a first- hand view of the economic successes, gaps and opportunities. There are a limited number of people that can be accommodated for each Tour. Thus, you will want to complete the Expression of Interest form as soon as possible if this is something that would be relevant for you. Completing the form does not guarantee participation.

To give you a sense of the most recent MCC Tour to The Pas and Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) held on April 24 & 25, here are a few of my journal entries:

AMAZED by ALL the innovative initiatives and wide range of business activities happening in The Pas, OCN and the RM of Kelsey. The business and community leaders are interested in bringing opportunities to their region.

We visited the OCN Smart Farm, an innovative vegetable-growing project at Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN). I had an opportunity to chat with Joan Niquanicappo and her team who are leading this progressive research in effort to address the challenges of food sustainability for northern communities.





Hard hat and safety vest – mandatory dress code for a tour of Canadian Kraft Paper Industries. This mill continues to be a major employer for folks living in the area. It also continues to be a world leader in high quality paper manufacturing, supplying both domestic and international markets. Did you know that Canadian Kraft Paper is Kosher certified? Important when you can produce paper suitable for use in packaging food products.


Women leaders can be found at all levels and in all industries, including some of Manitoba’s largest manufacturing facilities. As a member of the CME Manitoba – Women In Manufacturing Initiative, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Ann Evans, CFO and Tamsin Patience, Technical Manager at Canadian Kraft Paper Industries.





The Sam Waller Museum is a must-stop for anyone visiting The Pas. It’s also a gathering place. On this Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Tour, participants met with the leaders of the town and the RM of Kelsey to learn how the highway and the rail system intersect at The Pas providing a system to transport goods from many points across western Canada to the Port of Churchill.


At the Sam Waller Museum, I came across this exhibit: “Kathleen (Kate) Rice was a teacher, scholar, naturalist, trapper, mathematician, pioneer and prospector. She challenged societal trends by becoming an award-winning mathematician and teacher in the days when math was considered a man’s profession. In 1913, she homesteaded a small farm near The Pas.” Across northern Manitoba, there are many entrepreneurial women doing inspiring work, and on this Tour, I had the pleasure of meeting a few of The Pas’ and OCN’s inspiring women leaders. Being a leader is never easy; being a woman leader can be even more difficult. As an innovative, entrepreneurial woman, when you’re feeling challenged, let Kate’s story be your reminder that you are not alone in “fending off packs of wolves” and an “enraged bull moose” as you paddle your own entrepreneurial canoe.

If you’ve gotten to the end of this blog post, it shows that you’re interested in exploring opportunities in northern Manitoba. There are two more MCC Expand Your Business Tours scheduled for 2019:

Churchill on July 3-4

Flin Flon on October 9-10

I plan to attend them both so I hope to see you in Churchill and Flin Flon. If this has peaked your interest but you’re not sure if you’re ready or if this is right for your business, feel free to contact me.

By: Nancy Brommell, Business Advisor and Supplier Diversity Expert, Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba.