The economic development officer for the Town of Altona and Municipality of Rhineland, Stephanie Harris, says it was great to see the growth that unfolded in the region last year.
In 2023, Harris met with over 80 new and existing entrepreneurs, resulting in 65 connections made and 36 new opportunities created. New opportunities include new business start-up, business expansions, business grant funding and hiring employees through the RNIP program.

"These numbers continue to grow over the years, and I think more people are learning about the economic development group so, yeah, nice to see those numbers increase on an annual basis," said Harris.

Last year, SEED provided $80,500.00 in business grant funding for new business start-up, expansion, and the purchase of existing businesses in the RPGA region. As well, $185.258.54 was rebated back to businesses through SEED’s Tax Incentive Program. The Municipality of Rhineland rebated $113,655.25 and the Town of Altona rebated $71,603.29 in 2023 for new construction of a commercial or industrial building.

"That's a direct rebate after a business pays for their taxes," she explained. "So, they receive 100 per cent of their municipal taxes back for the first three years."

Additionally, SEED provided 52 Community Recommendations through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, which increased the local population by approximately 121 people. While the program continues to be quite successful in the area, it is set to expire at the end of February. SEED continues to await word if the federal government will extend it or, even better, make it permanent.

"For years we've been advocating for the program to be extended, which it was and that was fantastic, and now we're advocating for it to be made permanent. So, there's been lots of correspondence to the federal government by letters, virtual meetings, etc.," said Harris. "Regardless, we need to look at an immigration program because that is the only way we're going to address the labour market shortages here."

Previously, Harris served on the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program advisory council under the former PC government. Since October's election that saw the NDP come to power, she's had the chance to meet with the new minister of immigration a few times to continue the dialogue.