Well over a century ago, Calgary adopted a single word as its motto – onward.
Today, the answer to “What now?” after the Olympic plebiscite is the same as it has always been for this city – onward. Looking backwards has never been what Calgary is about and it won’t get us to where we want to go now.
At Calgary Economic Development, we saw The Games as a way to accelerate the Economic Strategy for Calgary, create opportunities for business, and inspire the next generation of Calgarians. Everything that makes this city a great place to make a living and a life is still here, so we will continue our work to drive economic growth and development.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games are unique in their scale and capacity to generate global business opportunities and media attention. However, they are just one of dozens of files we are working on to attract investment and market opportunities in Calgary.
We didn’t miss a beat this fall in working towards delivering our 2018 goals.
So far this year, 75 companies and more than 5,000 jobs have been attracted or retained in part through the efforts of Calgary Economic Development. The relocation of approximately 60 employees from the Bank of Canada or securing the head office for Bayer Crop Science in Canada, with another 60-plus jobs, are important for Calgary but don’t generate big media coverage.
The day of the plebiscite, we were actually hosting Launch Party where Startup Calgary was introducing 15 dynamic new local companies across a number of industries to hundreds of potential investors looking for the next big thing.
What’s next for Calgary Economic Development is simple. We will continue to implement the Economic Strategy that was approved by City Council this year. It is focused on four fundamentals – talent, place, innovation and business environment – that will help to create enduring prosperity in these changing economic times.
There is no quick solution to resolve Calgary’s challenges. It’s likely going to take a decade or more to fill the vacant offices downtown. Progress will come in increments and through collaboration by everyone with a stake in this city’s future.
Things are already happening. Plans are coming together to advance development of the Rivers District in Victoria Park, incorporating an event centre (arena) and BMO Expansion. There are exciting initiatives that further integrate our post-secondary institutions into the community, as we embrace tomorrow’s economy.
One thing that was evident from the level of engagement, the passionate debate and the voter turnout in the plebiscite, is just how much Calgarians care about their city. We now must harness that energy and work together as a community to inspire innovation and create opportunities to drive our city onward.
Our business community has strong industry leaders in all our various sectors. These game-changing companies now have the opportunity to join us in leading the renewed effort to take charge of our future, tell Calgary’s story, and develop a diverse and vibrant economy. We have ideas on a number of initiatives we will be sharing in the weeks and months ahead to bring the community together to help shape our future. We hope you will join us.
It’s what Calgary has always done and what we need to do now.