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Location, industry makes Winnipeg an ideal distribution hub

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Winnipeg checks all the right boxes when it comes to housing a major distribution centre for a company like Amazon, according to some in the industry.

Terry Shaw, the executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, says Winnipeg’s central location and booming transportation industry made the city an ideal location for Amazon.

“We’re the geographic centre of North America in terms of distribution from the Winnipeg area. I think there’s 90 or 95 per cent of North America can be reached by road from Winnipeg within 48 hours,” Shaw told Global News.

Read more: Winnipeg selected for new Amazon delivery centre

Monday, the Manitoba government confirmed plans by Amazon to build a 113,000-square-foot warehouse in the city. The facility will go up in the Inkster Industrial Park at 11 Plymouth St., and is expected to create hundreds of full and part-time jobs.

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“It’s been widely reported that it’s in very close proximity to the airport, the facility itself has rail access, which again comes with that CentrePort footprint and it’s literally surrounded by trucking companies in the area,” Shaw added.

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“We obviously respond to customer demand, and more so we look for talent, and we found an abundance of talent in the workforce here,” said Tushar Kumar, Amazon Canada’s regional director of operations for last-mile logistics.

A spokesperson for CentrePort Canada says the transportation and distribution industry in Manitoba employs more than 40,000 people and contributes over $7 billion to GDP, but there’s still room for significant growth.

“Historically speaking, Manitoba has always been a very strong transportation and distribution hub, and our geographical location certainly makes us an excellent choice for distribution centre activity,” said Aimme Goyer, CentrePort Canada’s executive director of marketing and communications.

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“We’re seeing a bit of a shift in trend from larger distribution centres to more regional centres, and we’re really in a position to capitalize on that.”

Read more: Winnipeg Airports Authority ‘working’ with Amazon on potential warehouse in city

Goyer says having a major online shopping giant like Amazon moving in may garner attention from other large companies.

“The distribution centre that Amazon announced is the first in the Prairies,” Goyer said. “Amazon is such a big brand that when activity like this happens, other people definitely take notice.”

The Amazon facility in Winnipeg is slated to open in 2021.

–With files from Marek Tkach