With the rebound of North American construction activity and growth in Asian markets, coupled with strong regional demand, the forestry and manufacturing industry have the potential to benefit from Grande Prairie’s accessibility to resources and infrastructure. An existing cluster of forestry and wood product manufacturing in the region exports over $973 million annually.
Investment Opportunities Include:
- Manufactured wood products
- Mass timber manufacturing (Cross Laminated and Glue Laminated Timber)
- Prefabrication and modular construction
- Small-scale manufacturing
Access to Resources
Forestry contributes significantly to the region’s economy as northwestern Alberta produces a substantial amount of the province’s pulp, oriented strand board and dimensional lumber. Situated on the outskirts of the boreal forest, Grande Prairie is ideally located to take advantage of the wealth of timber in the region. Northwestern Alberta produces 40% of Alberta’s pulp, 64% of its panel board and 50% of its timber. Grande Prairie’s forestry industry is one of the most important economic engines in the region, with four large operators, Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, Canfor and West Fraser Timber. The major forestry operators in the region create additional benefits and opportunities for collaboration and byproduct uses. While it is unusual to see such a concentration of major operators in a city of Grande Prairie’s size, these operations are among the most competitive in Canada and the region’s top industrial employers.
Grande Prairie’s accessibility to various markets through high-quality infrastructure and connectivity is an asset to companies in this sector. Three major local highways (Highways 40, 43, 2) provide a direct connection to Edmonton, British Columbia, the Northwestern Territories, and the Rocky Mountains.
On an international level, Grande Prairie is located on the CANAMEX trade route, which connects Canada with both the United States and Mexico. Grande Prairie’s rail connects it to the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert and the rest of Northern America and offer the most cost-effective way of shipping bulk goods out of the region and into export markets.
The Grande Prairie region is served by Canadian National Railway. High load capacity lines connect with the CN mainline at Hinton, linking Grande Prairie to the port of Vancouver, Prince Rupert and the rest of North America. In June of 2021, CN Rail announced an investment of $445 million dollars in Alberta to help meet demand and future needs of its customers. CN’s investment strategy is focused on creating a more fluid and more efficient network, and encouraging the use of rail for long haul transportation, leading to reduced emissions.
Side Group Rail provides rail reload and transportation services with seven facilities in the Peace Country. Managing broad inventories, Side Group Rail directs the movement of ½ billion dollars of goods annually from their Grande Prairie operations.
Grande Prairie is the closest western municipality in Alberta to tidewater, giving Grande Prairie an advantage to getting bulk product to port to Asian markets faster than anywhere in Alberta.
Availability of Skilled Labour
According to the 2021 Labour Market Needs Assessment , the majority of students in Grande Prairie (6,865) have education focused on engineering-related fields of study and 11% of the workforce already holds a technical certification. This local skilled labour in Grande Prairie is utilized and tailored to the needs of small-scale manufacturing.
The existing cluster of forestry and wood product manufacturing contributes approximately 2305 jobs related to this industry in the region. An additional 5982 construction related jobs create a readily available workforce for a variety of investment opportunities in this area.