They all came to the table with their own ideas, agendas, strategies, missions, questions and concerns.
They walked away with a plan — an updated economic strategy for Calgary including 31 specific tasks to be undertaken and a method for measuring the success of each one.
This is no small feat when bringing together a 40-member project advisory committee comprised of focused and determined individuals. From globally minded business executives and champions of the arts to impassioned politicians, scholars and social advocates, virtually every sector of the community is represented.
“Refreshing the economic strategy that we developed in 2008 for Calgary was a process that involved conducting one-on-one interviews, organizing focus groups, administering questionnaires and taking in a whole lot of feedback,” says Steve Allan, chairman of Calgary Economic Development and chair of the committee formed to refresh the 10-year economic strategy.
“Throughout the process, the mayor was also heavily involved to make sure that we were aligned with the City’s vision for the future. What we came away with, though, is a comprehensive strategy with 31 clearly defined actions,” says Allan.
When Calgary released the 10-year economic strategy for the city in 2008, it emphasized Calgary’s desired position as a global centre.
Five years in, however, it was decided that it was necessary to take the time to evaluate progress and revisit priorities.
“We really wanted to keep focused on implementation this time,” says Allan. “And it turns out that our new plan doesn’t look a whole lot like the 2008 plan.”
The process of refreshing the strategy started with a series of CEO roundtable focus groups in 2012, and based on those discussions, Calgary Economic Development and the City of Calgary launched a process to update the economic strategy for Calgary.
They engaged more than 300 people including elected officials and community and business leaders to discuss the priorities set out in 2008, determine the progress made and assess whether the priorities had shifted.
“We decided we really needed to focus on our strengths and build on what we had already accomplished,” says Allan.
“We needed to find ways to take advantage of and leverage all the wonderful things we have achieved. For example, we’re already a global centre for oil and gas, so now the challenge is to build on that great foundation and become a global centre for all forms of energy.”
He says there is also a much stronger emphasis on ensuring success is inclusive in the updated Building On Our Energy strategy.
We need to do a better job of making sure this is a great community, with economic opportunities for everyone says Allan, adding that partners who share this priority, such as Momentum, Vibrant Communities Calgary and Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, are helping to take a leadership role.
Calgary Economic Development will lead and co-lead 15 of the 31 actions in the updated strategy. Innovate Calgary, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Arts Development, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, post-secondary institutions, the Calgary Regional Partnership and City administration will be the lead organizations for the remaining actions.
“We will all report back on Dec. 15, 2015 so we are all moving forward aggressively on these actions,” says Court Ellingson, project manager for economic strategy.
The mission is to align The City of Calgary, its civic partners, private sector and other community organizations to achieve economic competitiveness, embrace shared prosperity and build a strong community.
“The world is constantly changing,” says Allan. “But with a comprehensive strategy, we can be ready for all the opportunities