Calgary Economic Development has launched an ambitious plan to try and attract seventy new businesses to the city in the next three years.
The idea is to use our office vacancy rate as incentive, which is as high as 20 per cent in some downtown buildings.
CED president Mary Moran says in a recent survey, half the respondents said they feel the energy industry will never be the same after this downturn, and our economy needs to diversify.
She says the plan is to reach out to sectors in cities like Vancouver who are having a tough time attracting people with the high cost of living and trying to sell them on setting up a satellite office in Calgary.
“I would say our number one asset is this very high educated, talented workforce, and that’s always the lead story. But we are also competitive from a tax perspective and we also now have softening of office space, rentals. So if you look at jurisdictions like Vancouver where it’s prohibitively expensive for people to live there, and yet they have high demand for talent, we can be a relief valve for Vancouver to try to attract a satellite office or regional office.”
Moran says there is also the opportunity, especially with older buildings to turn some of that into residential space.
Mary Moran was speaking at Calgary Economic Development’s annual Report to the Community luncheon.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi was also at the event. He believes there are still opportunities for economic development in Calgary.
He says there are industries where economic diversification can take place, pointing to transportation and logistics, travel and tourism, as well as the creative industries and agri-business.
Nenshi says while the city’s unemployment rate is above the national average, more jobs were created than lost.
He says part of that is because people are still moving to the city.
He says the strategy of Calgary Economic Development works in the short term, saying companies should look at hiring students, purchase from local businesses and use their time to be more innovative.
Nenshi says in the medium and long term, the city needs to work at attracting more people and the best talent in the world.
He adds that in turn, that will attract more jobs.