Calgary’s perceptions soften from business leaders in other cities, worker perceptions hold steady

January 25, 2024
New Economy Research & Reports Talent
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Perceptions of Calgary softened among business leaders but held fairly steady among workers in other cities in 2023, influenced by increased uncertainty among Canadian business leaders, lower consumer and business confidence and growing affordability concerns.  

This is according to research commissioned by Calgary Economic Development and delivered by research firm, Stone-Olafson. 

Data highlights importance of owning Calgary’s story 

“Perceptions is a long game, but one thing is clear from this year’s results: we cannot underestimate the power of coming together to own our own story,” says Brad Parry, President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development and CEO, Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund.  

“We must do this while also navigating broader economic and political trends shaped by global and national events happening beyond our city limits.” 

In 2023, 82 per cent of surveyed business leaders held a favourable view of Calgary an eight per cent decrease from 2022 influenced by growing uncertainty around Calgary’s economic and workforce diversity from those in other Canadian cities.  

While consideration of expanding to Calgary has decreased among business leaders, they are currently not looking to expand anywhere. 

Calgary considered top city for talent considering a move 

At the same time, the percentage of workers with a favourable view of Calgary held fairly steady at 70 per cent (a two per cent decrease from 2022).  

Sixty-one percent of workers agreed Calgary is an affordable place to live, 58 per cent agreed it’s an easy place to live and 61 per cent agreed it’s a place to build a career. 

Calgary remains the number one city both Canadian and American workers would consider moving to, compared to other Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Calgary received high scores in the top three factors respondents consider when evaluating a move, which are: affordability, a clean, safe, comfortable city and income growth opportunities. 

Research informs efforts to attract and retain companies, capital and talent in Calgary 

Results from the annual external perceptions survey inform Calgary Economic Development’s efforts to attract, retain and expand the companies, capital and talent the city needs to thrive.  

This includes telling Calgary’s story, business development activities, talent attraction campaigns and identifying areas for industry and government collaboration. 

“For eight years, Calgary Economic Development has measured perceptions of business leaders and workers in other cities, enabling data-driven decision-making when it comes to promoting Calgary across Canada and around the world,” said Mathew Stone, partner at Stone-Olafson. 

“These insights can be leveraged by industry, civic institutions and governments alike to inform potential paths forward to shape Calgary’s economy.”  

Guiding the path towards a city that creates long-term prosperity and opportunities for all is Calgary’s economic strategy. The community-built strategy identifies five key focus areas– talent, business environment, brand, innovation and livability – that work together support a sustainable economy for Calgary.  

“At Calgary Economic Development, we will redouble our efforts in 2024 to ensure that Calgary’s true story is being told and heard, here and abroad. We look forward to working together with our partners to bring that story to life in new ways,” adds Parry. 

The 2023 perceptions results are based on an online survey of 1,021 workers and 445 business leaders from Oct. 2 to Oct. 14, 2023, across 10 cities in Canada and the United States. An approximate margin of error associated with this sample size is +/- 2.3 per cent. 

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