Board of Directors

The PRED Board is comprised of six Directors, three Councillors representing the City and three Councillors representing the Rural Municipality. The 2017-2018 Board includes:

Preston Meier, Board Chair, City of Portage
Garth Asham, Vice Chair, R.M. of Portage
Kam Blight, R.M. of Portage
Kevin Blight, R.M. of Portage
Brent Budz, City of Portage
Melissa Draycott, City of Portage
Peggy May, Chamber Rep

Executive Director: Vern May

Vern May is an award-winning marketer and economic developer. He was appointed to the role of Executive Director in February 2017 and comes to the role with a background in community and business development in both the public and private sector.

Since 2013, Vern has been engaged in rural economic development in Manitoba, holding previous positions in the communities of Souris and Minnedosa respectively before arriving in Portage la Prairie.  He identifies that while the fundamentals of development are the same, each community has its own unique hurdles to overcome to get to a point of investment readiness to attract business.

In Portage la Prairie, Vern has been focused on establishing best-in-class investment readiness to ensure that the region is well-positioned to take advantage of incoming development interest that will help to encourage growth. In his first year, he has already secured more than $25 Million in new development, spearheaded a tourism brand process and is actively engaged with both current and inquiring business interests in the community. In November 2017, he was awarded the Rising Star award by the Economic Developers Association of Manitoba as a practitioner with less than five years in the municipal economic development field that is making an impact.

In Minnedosa, Vern was tasked with trying to encourage growth of the business community in a jurisdiction which self-identified that it had no land or vacant store fronts available to be occupied.  His term in Minnedosa focused on nurturing grassroots entrepreneurship which resulted in the opening of new shops and services by re-purposing existing commercial spaces.  In addition, his efforts to create visibility for the community nestled in the valley without strong visibility from the adjacent highways increased the marketing and publicity profile through the mainstream media as well as online avenues.  His efforts in this role earned him consecutive Tourism Westman Marketing Excellence awards in 2016 and 2017.

In Souris, his arrival saw a community that was still trying to overcome the impact of widespread media surrounding a record-breaking flood that rocked the town two years earlier.  That flood, which drew national headlines, required the demolition of the community’s Star Attraction, the Souris Swinging Bridge and wreaked havoc upon the community.  May’s role during his stay there was to re-introduce the Province to Souris and illustrate that the town had fully recovered.  His efforts included hosting the community’s first large scale concerts.  His investigation into new opportunities for development included feasibility studies and engagement with developers which has since led to the construction of a $9M combined hotel/seniors’ residence on a property at the heart of the business district which had been vacant for 26 years.  His efforts to collaborate with community stakeholders earned the community the 2015 Partnership Award as issued by Tourism Westman.

In addition to his work in Economic Development, Vern holds a certificate in University Management and is a graduate of the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Prior to entering the development field, Vern also spent twenty years as a touring professional wrestler, a position that he credits for fostering many of the skills needed for working in the highly scrutinized realm of municipal civil service. Vern He has settled in Portage la Prairie with his wife Karen and their sons Oscar and Ty.