A local economic development group has been successful in landing an immigration pilot project designed to address the shortage of workers in our area.

The federal government announced on Thursday the Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee district has been selected as one of 11 communities across the country for the program.

The SEED group based in Altona applied for the pilot program earlier this year in an effort to bring in skilled labour to meet local labour market needs and support regional economic development.

Under the program, employers in these 11 communities will have the ability to directly select immigrants to hire and will also give immigrants the ability to choose one of these 11 communities to make their permanent residence.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says by taking the decisions on matching immigrants to employers and communities out of Ottawa’s hands, rural and northern areas struggling with population declines and worker shortages hope to find newcomers who want to come and stay.

The 11 communities chosen for this pilot will get a range of supports and programs to test this new pilot, which is based on the Atlantic immigration pilot that has seen a boost in immigrant retention rates in that part of the country.