There’s excitement in the town of Moosomin. We’re a small town of about 3,000 people in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan close to the Manitoba border. You might think it’s a sleepy little place, but you’re going to be hearing a lot more about Moosomin and the surrounding area in the future.

Around 60 people turned out recently for the annual general meeting of the Community Builders Alliance – our biggest turnout yet!

We were lucky enough to have Paul Martin, a well-known business journalist and media expert as our keynote speaker. Paul is a huge proponent for Saskatchewan business and he was clearly a big draw for the event.

But, there is another reason we’re seeing more people come out for our events and taking notice of the CBA.

The Community Builders Alliance is gaining momentum.

This unique partnership between local entrepreneurs, the Town of Moosomin and the Rural Municipality of Moosomin has come together to make Moosomin a great place to live, work, play and invest.

The CBA (funded by memberships to private sector members) is focused on making the Moosomin area a regional hub of business and health services. Keeping current residents here and attracting new people and businesses to the area will allow the Moosomin area to continue growing.

The CBA is an example of what can happen when local governments and businesses decide to work together and pool resources. With the funding, we’ve been able to hire an administrator, economic development officer, and a government strategist and have plans for more staff in the future.

Interestingly, Moosomin is one of the few rural municipalities that is experiencing rapid growth. We know we need to continue investing in infrastructure, services and people so we can meet the increased demand. We can’t run businesses without people, and we won’t have people if we don’t give them reasons to want to stay in rural Saskatchewan.

A relaxed lifestyle, fresh air and no rush hour traffic are great attributes of rural living, but aren’t enough to keep people here. Parents want excellent and upgraded schools for their children, recreational facilities for sports and concerts, easy and rapid access to health care for our sick and aging and affordable housing.

The CBA currently consists of 37 progressive companies and individuals who see the value in membership and strength in numbers. We even have members from other nearby communities, such as Virden, Whitewood and Carlyle, which shows that other areas recognize Moosomin is becoming a regional hub.

We can’t always count on the government to come to the rescue with answers or money. Sometimes, we need to do it ourselves.

As the result of meetings, consultation and strategy sessions, the CBA identified four main priority areas – the airport expansion, a CT scanner, a recreational sportsplex/cultural hub and residential housing.

In just over a year, the CBA has already made great progress with two of those projects. The airport expansion is moving ahead with provincial funding, a generous donation from Nutrien and community fundraising. This airport expansion is incredibly important for the entire region, allowing access to the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance service, in addition to increased business opportunities. With the new runway, we’ll also be able to have fixed-wing aircraft land here and the ability to take patients straight to Saskatoon for medical service.

Moosomin will have the 3rd longest paved runway in the Province.

As you likely read in this week’s paper, local drilling company Ijack, Dan and Olga McCarthy made a generous donation of $500,000 towards the airport expansion.

And, another one of our members is responsible for an additional $500,000 donation that will be announced soon.

We can’t say enough about these donations and others from our membership, which has so far contributed and/or committed $700,000 of $1.7 million in private contributions. Our goal is to raise $1 million from our members. Is it ambitious? Yes. Is it possible? We believe it is. Our members are well connected and by leveraging their networks and “moving mountains,” we are confident we can get this deal done. In rural Saskatchewan (and everywhere, really) business relationships and networks are key assets.

In the recent provincial budget, there was a $5.1-million increase to expand the capacity for specialized CT and MRI medical imaging services in Saskatchewan. What this means for our region, as the World Spectator reported, is that a unique funding agreement may be possible where a privately-owned CT scanner is purchased for our community, with Saskatchewan Health paying for the medically necessary scans. There’s even talk of having the option for private scans if waitlists are too long.

It’s still early days, but the proposal put forward by our community means this CT scanner is that much closer to becoming a reality.

So, when we say there’s a feeling of excitement about what Moosomin can accomplish, I think you can see why.

Several government representatives have told us they are watching the CBA closely, as a pilot project and a model for what other rural municipalities can emulate. Stay tuned…

If you want to learn more about the CBA or purchase a membership, please visit our website, www.cballiance.ca.