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One year ago, Council approved the update to the 10-year Economic Strategy for Calgary. Over two years, 400 leaders in the community were engaged to share where we have been, our successes, our challenges and to establish a clear vision for the economic development of Calgary. The result was Building on our energy, a holistic strategy that considers the integrated nature of the economy, the critical role of collaboration and the need to diversify. Building on our energy is structured around three broad goals: shared prosperity, strong communities and sustainable development through purposeful diversification. The Strategy places a spotlight on innovation and entrepreneurship, and emphasizes the need for people and community in building a strong economy.

In updating the Economic Strategy for Calgary it became clear there was a need for collaboration and leadership to accomplish these goals. In order to achieve this, Calgary Economic Development assembled lead stakeholders to serve on a Leadership and Implementation Team. Leadership Team members include:

  • City of Calgary: General Managers and the Mayor’s Office
  • All of Calgary’s seven post-secondary institutions
  • Innovate Calgary, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Arts Development and Calgary TELUS Convention Centre
  • Representatives from provincial and federal ministries
  • Calgary Chamber, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and Calgary Airport Authority
  • Vibrant Communities Calgary and Momentum


The Leadership Team members are responsible for reaching out to the broader community in engaging the private sector and civic society to implement individual actions in the Strategy. They are also responsible for highlighting challenges raised, opportunities to be realized and any shifts that might be required to the Strategy. In the past year, the implementation team has activated 70 per cent of the Strategy with nine per cent of tactics already complete, albeit with ongoing activities. In addition, new actions and tactics have been added to reflect opportunities in agri-business and better represent the activities being undertaken by the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative.

Several successes have already been recorded by Leadership Team members. Calgary Economic Development is the steward of the Economic Strategy and leads 12 of the actions, co-leading another four. In 2015:

  • Calgary Economic Development hosted 21 inbound trade missions.
  • Calgary achieved Foreign Trade Zone status and began marketing the region as an Inland Port.
  • Innovate Calgary, working with Calgary Economic Development, launched Kinetica, an energy technology accelerator, and AlbertaIN, a collaboration of 75 service providers establishing a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs seeking startup support. They also introduced the Alberta Venture Mentoring Service that has already matched 12 startup companies with mentoring companies.
  • The City of Calgary launched the Fair Entry program – a single step process in applying for subsidies for all City programs.
  • The City of Calgary launched a new planning process that includes an exploratory phase for developers to discuss projects before applying for a development permit.
  • The Calgary Regional Partnership and The City of Calgary have collaborated to initiate an industrial land mapping project in the region.
  • Calgary Arts Development developed SpaceFinder, an online arts space booking tool.
  • Vibrant Communities Calgary has brought together a Leadership Implementation Council to support the Implementation Plan for Enough for All.
  • Tourism Calgary unveiled a three-year strategy to boost tourism in the Calgary region.

As we all know, 2015 was a challenging year for Calgary. Data suggests that the economic slowdown is affecting not only employment, incomes, and Calgarians’ ability to earn a living, but may also be affecting their perception of the quality of life in Calgary. Calgary Economic Development and the Strategy’s Leadership Team will continue to implement and adjust the Strategy’s actions to affect positive change in our community and our economy. Change is not easy, nor is it quick but with commitment and collaboration we will be successful.


Court Ellingson Profile Picture

BY Court Ellingson

Vice President, Research & Strategy

Research & Strategy

Court joined us as Research Manager in 2014 and joined the senior management team in 2015. He works with governments, non-profit agency and the private sector to implement Building on our Energy, the 10-year Economic Strategy for Calgary. His career includes six years with CUSO International in Indonesia.

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