Brandon got two big boosts in the arm on Wednesday.
As you’ll read in today’s paper —or online, where we covered both announcements yesterday at brandonsun.com — the two projects are each worth millions of dollars.
The first was a $20-million contract at Behlen Industries.
The local steelmongers will be tooling up with robots so it can fill the massive order, which will require Behlen to deliver between two and three buildings a month for the next two years.
That project starts in December, traditionally a slow time for Behlen, and will forestall the company from doing seasonal layoffs. Next year, despite the new automated assembly line, it expects to hire more. That’s excellent news for the Brandon economy. Behlen is already one of the city’s largest employers, with around 300 workers here.
Behlen recently opened a plant in Moscow, following the hugely successful (and just downright huge) indoor soccer stadium it built in Russia last year. Since current international tension with the Russians may make that a less sure bet than it seemed before, a pivot toward the Canadian oilpatch looks like just the ticket.
The new buildings, done for Edmonton-based NWS Construction, will be assembled at the Carmon Creek project for Shell. They’ll be made out of reinforced steel — stronger than most industrial buildings — and yet will still feature wide-open interiors without columns to house large equipment.
Behlen is one of Brandon’s biggest local success stories, and we applaud the company for landing this contract. Over the next two years, the ripple effect through Brandon’s economy will be fantastic.
The city’s second big boost was unveiled at Brandon University.
In a coup for the university — and for the city — federal Minster of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder was in Brandon to announce the creation of the Rural Policy Learning Commons. Based at BU, the commons will be a $5.2-million international partnership with dozens of participating institutions, from Alaska to Bologna. For the next seven years, it’ll work — in Brandon —to strengthen the voices of rural and northern communities.
The spinoffs for the Westman region are obvious to anyone who has ever heard the word “Perimeteritis.” Having rural voices continue to be heard in an increasingly urbanized world is important, not just for the people who live here, but also because rural areas are so vast, and make up so much of our country.
Brandon University’s Rural Development Institute is perfect to house this new project, and it will pay dividends that go beyond the trickle-down effect of its budget.
We’re always glad to cover good news — we’re doubly glad that there was so much of it yesterday.