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By Adam Waterous and Steve Allan

There is a wave of innovation that is transforming the way we live, the way we think, the way we do business, and it goes a long way to defining Calgary in the New Economy.

Embracing the unprecedented technological innovation that is transforming the world and disrupting all our major industries is recognized as the best path to enduring prosperity in the new economic strategy for the city unveiled today titled Calgary in the New Economy.

Charting a course for the economy is a challenge at the best of times, but in today’s fast-evolving world it is also critical to our future prosperity.

Calgary in the New Economy is the latest version of the strategy for Calgary. It has evolved consistently since it was initially created in 2008 and then updated in 2014. It has been an effective roadmap for the city in both good times and bad.

Times change and strategies evolve, but our goal is always to be a city with a vibrant and diverse economy where everyone has the opportunity to share in the prosperity.

The challenges Calgary faces today are global challenges and they are significant. However, we see tremendous opportunities to embrace this disruption and build on the strengths of the existing innovation clusters in our core and emerging industries.

The Strategy is built around the fundamentals needed to catch the next wave of growth. It is focused on rounding out our talent, strengthening our innovation ecosystem, having the best business environment in the country, and being a place where people want to live.

The Strategy was approved by city council this summer and is being released today at Calgary Economic Development’s Economic Outlook lunch. It is the culmination of more than a year’s work and engaged over 1,800 Calgarians from business, education, civic partners and social agencies, as well as everyday citizens.

The Economic Strategy aligns the visions of the City of Calgary, its civic partners, the private sector, educators and community stakeholders. Together they will work together to achieve economic competitiveness, enduring prosperity and a stronger community. We get this right and we resolve our challenges in regards to high unemployment and empty office space.

The bottom-up process to chart the future we all want for our city is rooted in values that define Calgary — inclusiveness, entrepreneurialism and incredible community spirit. Rather than focus on a few specific industries, Calgary in the New Economy zeroes in on drivers of growth: Talent, Innovation, Place and a Business-Friendly environment.

There are 13 key initiatives under those four areas of focus and a number of specific tactics as part of the plans. Work is already underway in some areas.

We recognize the world is moving at a rapid pace and we intend to do the same.

The objective for Calgary is ambitious but achievable: “To be the city of choice in Canada for the world’s best entrepreneurs. We embrace innovation to create solutions to the world’s greatest needs; food, energy, transportation and health.”

We are at a crossroads, as is every city in the world. Automation is a challenge for the workforce in every sector of the economy and the skilling and re-skilling of our people remain the most critical elements of this Strategy.

As a city, we have everything needed to prosper in the new economic reality. The Economist Intelligence Unit recently rated Calgary the most liveable city in North America and No. 4 in the world. We see no reason why we can’t be No. 1.

Calgary has led this country economically for the last 20 years and we absolutely believe that if we can work together to fully implement this Strategy then we will lead it in economic growth for the next 20.

Adam Waterous is chair of the Leadership and Implementation Team for Calgary’s Economic Strategy.

Steve Allan is executive chair of Calgary Economic Development.

This column was published in the Calgary Herald on October 3, 2018.


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