If you go back through time and consider Calgary’s economic personality, you would come to an obvious conclusion. Although circumstances have changed dramatically over time, one thing remains the same – Calgary perseveres.
There doesn’t seem to be anything this city cannot handle. Pipeline politics, trade disputes, and a painful recession have tested us of late, but only serve to show that Calgary is strong. With the renewed focus on sustained economic growth and prosperity, the future is bright and our best years lay ahead of us.
The optimistic message about community determination in the face of historic economic challenges was delivered by Steve Allan, Chair of the Board for Calgary Economic Development, during a recent speech to the Canadian Club of Calgary.
The Canadian Club was founded in Calgary in 1907. The context of history was fitting in Allan’s remarks given the swings in the economic fortunes that have occurred during the more than a century the Club has been a leading catalyst for important conversations in the city.
“We are undoubtedly navigating a world of disruption, but change and uncertainty are nothing new to Calgarians,” said Allan, who titled his remarks Calgary: A City Worth Fighting For.
The Conference Board of Canada has said Alberta’s economy is only now “crawling its way back” after a structural recession, yet The Economist Intelligence Unit rates Calgary as one of the absolute best places in the world to live and do business.
Allan relayed a story to the audience about coming across a newspaper article from 1892 in the Toronto Globe. The story was about Calgary’s progress and how the “Canadian frontier” brought the arrival of railways which upset the dynamic of the town.
“Things are in a transition state here just now,” the writer observed. He relayed a sentiment that change was coming maybe “a little too fast” to the town, and implied that maybe Calgary thrived best on the way things used to be.
More than one hundred years later, Allan noted, and we still have many of the same anxieties.
Much of his speech drew on Calgary’s economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, which was unanimously passed by City Council last year. The Strategy is a shared vision that lays out a formula for a robust future. This vision is rooted in people working together, building trust, and pulling in the same direction.
The new economy brings challenges but also opportunities. It was true a century ago, Allan said, and it is true today.
Calgary is famous for its entrepreneurial spirit and being home to companies that have shaped Canada’s economy. The one constant in this city’s remarkable history that talented people have driven innovation and create prosperity.
That's why there is such a focus on talent among the four pillars in the economic strategy. For Calgary to lead the new economy, the city must be the destination for top talent in Canada. The strategy includes recruiting some key people and companies, but mostly on retraining and retaining the highly talented workforce already here.
Calgary Economic Development sees tech as a way of doing business, encompassing, and more than a single sector. We are a city that welcomes the technological innovations transforming society. We seek to resolve some of the world’s biggest challenges in areas like energy, logistics, food and health.
Everyday people can’t do much to fill empty office towers, but Allan did issue a call to action for all Calgarians. There is one thing they can do to help the economy, right now and always. We need to support the local merchants that do so much for our quality of life and make this a city a place people want to live.
We’ve come together many times in our history – most recently after the 2013 floods – and we are more than ready to show that legendary resilience again.