Stampede Investment Forum 2018 offered delegates both tremendous investment opportunities and a chance to experience Calgary’s famous Western hospitality firsthand.
Record participation at the sixth annual conference that runs in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede reinforced an increasing sense of optimism in the Calgary and Alberta economies as companies embrace the disruptive technology and thinking transforming all industries.
The three-day conference is co-hosted by Calgary Economic Development, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada with support from Edmonton Global and Alberta’s Industrial Heartland for the almost 100 delegates from more than a dozen countries.
The agenda focused on the emerging opportunities in several of Calgary’s key industries with sector specific programming for agribusiness, health and life sciences, tourism, oil and gas, petrochemicals, renewables and clean tech.
“We are focused on innovation for our industrial sectors and working hard to position Calgary as the city of choice in Canada for the world’s best entrepreneurs,” said Mary Moran, President and CEO at Calgary Economic Development. “We are creating solutions to meet the world’s needs in clean energy, safe food, ease of movement for goods and people, and good health.”
This year’s investment forum dovetailed with a symposium by the Canada-United Arab Emirates (UAE) Business Council that brought added focus on the energy sector.
His Excellency Suhail Mohammed Faraj Al Mazrouei, Energy Minister for the UAE and current president of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), attended both events and provided a voice of reason in the tumultuous global oil markets with his call for greater cooperation to calm the price volatility.
He emphasized the deep ties between the UAE, a key OPEC member, and Canada, a non-OPEC oil producer, as an example of mutual support.
More than half the UAE’s investments in Canada are in the energy sector. It has totalled $15 billion in direct investment over the last 15 years and Al Mazrouei said the Arabian Gulf nation wants to invest more. One prominent investments is Nova Chemicals of Calgary, which is wholly owned by Mubadala Investment Co. of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The UAE also holds a majority stake in Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., with its first North American subsidiary, Taqa North, based in Calgary.
The Emirates are Canada’s largest export market in the Middle East and a delegation of more than 50 Alberta companies visited last November. The Government of Alberta announced at the conference it was establishing a trade representative in the UAE.
The energy is back with rising oil prices
The historic downturn in oil prices and pipeline challenges have accelerated the development of the innovation ecosystems in Calgary to address environmental performance and the digitization of the energy sector. It’s now creating opportunities for more investment.
With the Government of Canada recently taking ownership of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, delegates were assured the project will be completed and the increased access to global markets will enhance the overall investment climate.
Al Mazrouei also stressed the importance of developing pipeline and LNG infrastructure to ensure that Canada plays a vital role delivering energy to the world.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi set the tone at the opening session when he told the conference Calgary is the most business friendly city in Canada and is seeking investment. He cited the $100 million Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund that allows the City to work with investors proposing catalytic projects with potential to transform Calgary’s economy.
The message that all orders of government in Canada are firmly aligned in fostering greater trade and investment was reinforced by Francois-Phillippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, and Deron Bilous, Alberta’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
The symposium wasn’t strictly business. Delegates attended events at the Calgary Stampede, which Reuters news agency, in a story about Al Mazouei and oil prices, described as “this year’s biggest oil industry networking party.”
There is still work to be done creating jobs, filling office towers and attracting investment but with oil higher, unemployment lower and most businesses “busier” than a year ago, the big blue skies during Stampede week added to the optimism there are brighter days ahead.