A multimillion-dollar agreement between the Province of Manitoba, the Federal Government, and Azure Sustainable Fuel was announced last Wednesday in hopes of breaking ground on a first-of-its-kind facility near Portage la Prairie.

News that Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Canada, tells PortageOnline should generate a buzz in the province.

In addition to a $2.9 million investment from the provincial government, Wilkinson and the feds agreed to give $6.2 million to conduct a front-end engineering design study for a planned sustainable aviation fuel facility.

"I think for Portage la Prairie itself. It's a really important step forward to what we hope will be the eventual announcement of a large-scale project that's going to bring 1,500 construction jobs, 150+ direct jobs on an ongoing basis and $2 billion in economic activity."

Wilkinson notes that this announcement is a big deal for Portage la Prairie and Manitoba as a whole.

"It will benefit the agricultural sector that's going to provide the feed source for this, and it will benefit the folks who are actually involved in the processing of it," the minister continues. "I know there have been some challenges that Portage has had in terms of jobs over the past few years, and I think this is really good news regarding economic activity and a bright future."

After the designs and studies are completed, the minister hopes that they will decide whether or not to build the facility by early 2025. If everything goes to plan, the plant could be running by 2027.

"I think you should be excited about it. It's going to bring lots of indirect jobs and, therefore, prosperity to the community. It's going to bring prosperity to some of the rural areas that are going to supply the oils to actually feed the facility, and it's an opportunity for the community to actually participate directly in the fight against climate change. These biofuels are about reducing the amount of carbon emissions we've put into the atmosphere," he continues. "I think everybody who lives in Portage la Prairie and communities in Manitoba wants to be part of that fight against climate change."

According to their website, Azure is a privately held corporation solely focused on developing a renewable fuels production facility.