Tara Nelson of CTV Calgary interviews (r-l) Todd Hirsch, Mary Moran and Glen Hodgson during Economic Outlook 2018.

As the Calgary economy builds on the momentum of 2017 the energy sector is evolving into a new role in the city, the close to 1,500 people attending Economic Outlook 2018 heard from a pair of leading economists.

“Rather than fueling a lot of growth, the energy sector going forward is the (economic) backbone — still supporting a lot of employment, but the growth is going to come from other sectors,” said Todd Hirsch, Chief Economist at ATB Financial, said at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre.

“In Calgary in 2017, there are a lot of people in this room … who are saying, what if we change the narrative, what if we start to think of ourselves as not turning away from the hydrocarbon industry, but adding to it — alternative energies, AI, the tech sector…

“What if we transform the city in a new way?”

Glen Hodgson, Senior Fellow at the Conference Board of Canada, agreed with the backbone assessment for the energy sector in Calgary.

On a day when the benchmark crude oil price was approaching $55 US per barrel, the always eloquent Hirsch was quick to point out that oil and gas remains the “dog that wags an awful lot of tails in this province.”

After the Calgary economy emerged from recession surging to 4.6 per cent growth in 2017, Hodgson has forecast a modest 2.1 per cent growth in 2018.

“Overall, this is kind of a return to moderation. You’re having a really, really strong recovery year; 2018 will be a more modest year,” Hodgson said.

Mary Moran, President & CEO of Calgary Economic Development told the audience the convergence of technological trends in the physical, digital and virtual worlds is fueling opportunities for exponential innovation. Moran said those opportunities include the energy (conventional and renewables) industry but also key sectors in Calgary including agribusiness, fintech, logistics, creative industries, aerospace and others.

Economic Outlook 2018 was presented by ATB Financial and supported by our sponsors; Osler, PostMedia, CTV, University of Calgary, HBI, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, Haworth, FMAV, Northern Backup and WestJet Airlines.

BY Stephen Ewart

Manager, Research & Strategy

Research & Strategy

Stephen joined our Communications team in 2016 from the Calgary Herald where he was a columnist on the energy industry. He had previously worked in communications roles with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Cenovus Energy, Encana and Precision Drilling and in journalism with The Canadian Press and the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick.

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