Credit: Neil Zeller
Calgary Economic Development’s annual Report to the Community event covered the impact of COVID-19 and the importance of diversification and digital transformation (DX) across industries.
As part of the event, Calgary Economic Development and the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) released 2020 highlights that report on results in alignment with the goals of the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy.
Created in 2018, the economic strategy is a roadmap to digital transformation that envisions Calgary as the destination of choice for the world’s best entrepreneurs who embrace innovation to solve global challenges.
“As a city, we faced a new reality; low oil prices, a plunge in foreign direct investment, the biggest drop in GDP in the country, businesses struggling to survive and our unemployment rate doubling within six months,” said Mary Moran, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Economic Development. “Even with all the forces against us, we attracted and retained 54 companies and secured 5,500 jobs last year.”
The community set a collective goal to create 1,000 start-ups in Calgary in the next decade and it will be helped by OCIF support for early-stage entrepreneurs and scaling companies through business accelerators and incubators. Calgary companies attracted a record $353 million in venture capital in 2020.
A DX Spending Forecast developed with IDC Canada also revealed Calgary companies will lead the $20 billion in spending on digital technologies across all sectors in Alberta by 2024.
“The digital economy is our future, but it requires people, so developing a talent pipeline continues to be a top priority for Calgary Economic Development,” said Moran.
To change perceptions of the city and attract and retain top talent, Calgary Economic Development will continue with the Live Tech, Love Life marketing campaign, which won international awards in 2020 and established Calgary as Canada’s most adventurous tech city.
Looking forward into 2021, Calgary’s GDP is expected to be among the highest in Canada this year – up more than five per cent.
“We can’t leave people behind in this recovery,” said Moran. “We must pay particular attention to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to ensure the vulnerable populations in our city greatly affected by COVID-19 also benefit from our future growth.”
“From a vibrant downtown to a future-ready economy, to a city with shared prosperity – our success will come from working together.”
The event brought together community leaders to discuss COVID-19's economic impacts and how Calgary can be a global climate, community and capital leader.
“One of the major reasons that companies relocate or invest in a market is air access and we will continue to build that competitive advantage as a global hub carrier for Calgary,” said Ed Sims, CEO, WestJet. “Moving Calgary towards being a global hub will help us all to reach our economic goals.”
“Our world-class connectivity will have a tremendous impact on sustainable job creation, rejuvenating the downtown core, driving growth in traditional sectors, while diversifying into new and exciting industries and attracting new talent and businesses to our great city,” said Navin Arora, President, TELUS Business Solutions. “Calgary has enormous potential to be a growth engine for Canada by unleashing the legendary entrepreneurial spirit we’re known for.”
To download the 2020 highlight reports, click on the links below:
Behind the scenes Report to the Community photos provided by Neil Zeller Photography: