Economic challenges and goals similar for Lethbridge and Great Falls, Montana – Lethbridge

Economic Development Lethbridge’s Trevor Lewington was the sole Canadian speaker at this year’s Montana Economic Developers Association conference in Great Falls. Lewington said it was an opportunity to share, listen and learn.

“Most of Montana’s focus areas are very similar to what we’re working on. Agrifood plays a big role, a look at clean technology and renewable energy plays a big role, value-added manufacturing and other sectors.

“So sometimes we think we’re special and unique, but our neighbors are actually working on similar opportunities as we are,” Lewington added.

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He said Alberta exports an average of just over $2 billion a year in goods to Montana, with the bulk being oil and natural gas products.

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“Of the $1.6 billion worth of goods that Montana exported, almost $700 million came to Canada and of course Lethbridge is a big destination for that, as well as the US being Alberta’s largest trading partner in general.”

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Jolene Schalper, of the Great Falls Development Authority, said Lethbridge is Great Falls’ twin town with important connections.

“We have a lot of Lethbridge companies, Lethbridge has a lot of Great Falls companies and we just want to make sure we’re very conscious about that relationship these days,” Schalper added.

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Transport and shipping logistics are also key areas.

“If they can get closer to the border and then it makes more sense to ship from Canada to the port, or if it makes more sense to ship from the US to the port, we want to make sure Albertan and Montana businesses have that option, ” She added.

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While the goals are similar, Lewington says the economic challenges are similar.

“Loud and clear: manpower. Talent availability is the number one concern for business in Montana, no different than here. In fact, in the state of Montana, they are forecasting about 45,000 job openings statewide for a statewide population of one million people,” he added.

Lewington cites tourism as a shared success, adding he hopes the sector will continue to grow.

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