Calgary Economic Development has unveiled a new economic strategy to meet the challenges as the city continues to grapple after the recession of 2015 and 2016.
“By embracing innovation and technology, and continuing to diversify into high-growth sectors, Calgary has the ability to impact major global issues, including: hunger, health and well-being, energy security and environmental sustainability,” said the Calgary in the New Economy report released on Wednesday.
“We envision Calgary as Canada’s destination for talent, a leading city with an experienced business-to-business innovation community, as well as the country’s most livable and most business-friendly city,” said the report. “Workforce issues are an ongoing worldwide challenge and preparing our people with skills for the new economy is critical. It is also a priority to ensure that all citizens have the ability to participate in a thriving economy and enjoy the benefits of a prosperous city.”
The report said the four areas of focus in new strategy – talent, innovation, place and business environment – are deeply interconnected.
“As we implement this strategy, our ability to create or expand partnerships with the business community, governments and community partners will be critical to success,” it said. “Place-building and being a dynamic, vibrant city is now an integral part of all economic development. It is mutually reinforcing for attracting and retaining key talent.
“The idea of ‘investment in place’ includes encouraging investment in physical and social infrastructure to support connections within the city and to the rest of the world. Calgary is livable and affordable, with a quality of life that can attract and retain the millennial talent imperative to the city’s economic future. Adding to the vibrancy in the downtown core is important to ensuring the city is a magnet for talent. A business-friendly environment – everything from tax levels to ease of municipal permitting – has a renewed commitment from city council. It is crucial to attracting investment, as well as retaining and encouraging successful local companies.”
The report said alliances and partnerships with industry, government, other organizations, advanced education and community are key to this economic development strategy.
“We see technology infiltrating every sector of the economy, as opposed to being a standalone industry. With an increased emphasis on innovation, it is vital we adapt to technological change across all industries in order to improve competitiveness and productivity. A critical part of this strategy will be a focus on the application of technology to Calgary’s dynamic industrial sectors. From the digital, physical and virtual worlds to business and industry – technology will permeate every facet of the economy.”
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.