Despite the pandemic, Portage Regional Economic Development (PRED) is moving full-steam ahead with a plan to continue Portage's economic climb.

Executive director Eve O'Leary recently visited the city and RM councils to update them on her progress and is quite excited to share their efforts and some fruit of their labours.

"Back in June 2020, PRED really had worked hard on developing where economic development was going and where the organization wanted to be in four years time," says O'Leary. "So, they had identified four areas. One being governance, regional economic development, financial management and responsibility, and the fourth one being communications."

She explains they were thrilled to surpass the 20 per cent mark in that plan and are moving ahead in progress.

"Some of those highlights would be the reformation of the Portage Regional Tourism Committee," continues O'Leary. "We're really excited because now we're actually in the stages of expanding the committee and we currently have invitations gone out. Then we can really focus in on the five-year strategic plan for tourism and promoting Portage la Prairie as a destination in Manitoba."

O'Leary adds, though it's been a really hard year for all businesses in the entire community, Portage saw 20 businesses open up in 2020. She explains this shows just how awesome Portage la Prairie is, and how people who still want to come here, open a business, and expand their business as well can do so.

"It's been fantastic, but we do recognize that it is still a very hard time for our entire community," says O'Leary. "We actually expanded our team as well. We hired an economic development coordinator, so we're really focusing this year on data collection. We work with many of our community organizations providing that economic development lens. And then we're also hoping to do an economic baseline with our Portage Economic Response Team."

O'Leary adds the Portage Economic Response Team has been focusing on promoting how businesses can pivot during COVID.

"In the first quarter of this year, we ran a video series and got to speak to about six or seven businesses," adds O'Leary. "We promote them through the Portage Economic Response Team on how the pandemic has impacted their business and what they have done to pivot. People should log onto the PRED Facbook page or Community Futures Facebook page and check out those video series."