It’s being called southern Alberta’s venue for world class events.
The brand-new, 268,000-square-foot Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre hosted its opening ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 10, welcoming provincial and local dignitaries.
The facility is expected to drive tourism while simultaneously promoting Alberta’s vibrant agriculture industries.
Chief executive officer for Lethbridge and District Exhibition, Mike Warkentin, said while it took a bit longer than expected to open due to labour challenges, they’re elated to deliver everything promised in the original vision.
“I would say there is an enormous sense of relief today, but also excitement and joy for what the future holds for southern Alberta, for agriculture and for Lethbridge,” explained Warkentin.
Final costs for the project are estimated at just over $75 million, about $5 million more than the original budget.
Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre received funding from local governments, including the City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge County, along with a $3.5 million federal investment coming from Prairies Economic Development Canada.
Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation RJ Sigurdson said the province also provided $27.8 million as they believed there was immense opportunity in the building.
“Well, we predict this facility will have an impact of $90 million per year so that’s an incredible benefit for this area,” shared Sigurdson.
That includes hosting events that Tourism Lethbridge CEO Erin Crane details will create offshoot opportunities to bring even more tourist traffic into Lethbridge.
“Imagine this place full. It can host events for up to 7,000 people,” said Crane. “Where are all of those people staying? Where are they eating? Where are they spending their evenings when they’re not here at this facility? This is the visitor economy that we’re talking about.”
The venue features trading halls, salon rooms, meeting suites, a rooftop patio and a fully serviced kitchen.
Construction saw 400 jobs created, many contracted from southern Alberta agencies.
“What we’re very proud of is, that we built a local product, with local people and local hammers,” Warkentin went on to say.
The Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre opens to the public on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023.
With more than 20 years of planning put into the facility, it’s hoped that the building will provide many benefits for decades to come.
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