The long summer days are just one of the reasons why things are looking brighter in Calgary.

A survey conducted for The Calgary Chamber and Calgary Economic Development has found more than 6o per cent of business leaders expect better days for their companies and the local economy in the year ahead.

It’s the first time since 2013 a majority of the business leaders surveyed expected better days for their companies and the local economy.

“About two-thirds of business leaders said they see their business and the economy improving in the year ahead,” said Mary Moran, President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development. “There is also a strong sense things have changed and many are contemplating new lines of business, new markets and other innovations to promote diversification.”

The poll was conducted April 7-14 to gauge the sentiment of more than 800 business owners and senior executives.

  • Sixty-one per cent said their company would perform “better” in the year ahead (13 per cent expect it to be “a lot better.”) In fall 2016, when the question was first asked, 44 per cent said their company would improve in the next year.
  • Sixty-three per cent said Calgary’s economy will perform “better” in the year ahead (three per cent expect it to be “a lot better.”) In spring 2016, 43 per cent said the economy would improve over the next year.

The sense of optimism is supported by forecasts Calgary’s GDP will reach $117 billion in 2017 – a 2.3 per cent increase from 2016 after Alberta’s most significant recession in decades. Calgary’s economy is expected to return to same level as 2013 at the height of the oil sands boom.

However, a steady influx of people even during the downturn has added to the workforce and Calgary’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 9.3 per cent in April.

The survey reflected support for economic diversification. Eighty-one per cent of those surveyed said the oil and gas market has fundamentally changed and Alberta’s future depends on success in other sectors.  Many business leaders also expressed intent to invest in innovation and new lines of business within Canada.

“Attitudes about our economic future have changed,” said Adam Legge, President and CEO of The Chamber. “Calgary businesses are now looking to diversify their revenue streams by launching new business lines and finding clients for their products in new markets.”

That sense of change was reinforced in May with the announcement that Silicon Valley tech campus RocketSpace will take over office space in the former Encana Place building on 9th Avenue SW to work with local entrepreneurs.

The insight from the survey is used by The Chamber and Calgary Economic Development on programs that are helping businesses to adapt and succeed in the current environment, and market Calgary as a great location for investment and trade.

For a visual explanation of the findings, please see the attached PDF.

BY Court Ellingson

Vice President, Research & Strategy

Research & Strategy

Court joined us as Research Manager in 2014 and joined the senior management team in 2015. He works with governments, non-profit agency and the private sector to implement Building on our Energy, the 10-year Economic Strategy for Calgary. His career includes six years with CUSO International in Indonesia.

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