Alberta has experienced its share of turmoil throughout its nearly 115 years as a province. From floods to wildfires to perpetual commodity boom and bust cycles to global financial crises, we’ve weathered it all and come out the other side stronger. Each time we face adversity, we come together, support our neighbours, and roll up our sleeves to do what it takes to weather the storm.
It will take the same level of ingenuity, grit and combined effort to see us through this latest crisis.
Companies across Alberta are rising to the challenge. Distillers are stepping up to make hand sanitizer and cleaning products, manufacturers and engineers are making ventilators and masks, and companies are donating…. Meanwhile, our government is stepping up to help our neighbours by sending supplies across provincial borders, all while doing a commendable job of keeping Albertans safe and preventing spread of the virus. This is what it means to be an Albertan, whether you were born here or just moved here – it’s what we do. Albertans have an incredible work ethic, ingenuity and a fierce patriotism rooted in a strong sense of community.
But the COVID-19 crisis is unique.
What makes this fundamentally different than anything we’ve ever faced before is that there will not be a return to what we know as ‘normal’. We hear a lot of talk about the ‘new normal’ signalling that economists, governments and industry alike know the world will be different on the other side of this, we just don’t know exactly how yet.
But we do have some early indicators. The companies surviving – and in some cases thriving – are those that defy the status quo, innovate their business models to adapt to new realities and introduce disruptive new technologies that create entirely new industries and products. The jurisdictions coming out of the crisis soonest and strongest are the ones who leverage massively-scalable digital and network infrastructure, use technology to link across industries and ecosystems and who innovate fast and operationalize even faster.
Now is the time for bold ideas and action.
We have the ingredients to be global leaders and create made-in-Alberta solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Tremendous opportunity exists in energy and agricultural sustainability, food security, healthcare and pharmaceutical innovation and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for manufacturing and construction. These are areas we excel at and already have deep expertise in. Innovation will be the key to turning this economic disruption into opportunity, but it will require significant and immediate investments in talent and digital infrastructure to support our businesses in adopting the next generation of tools that will help them become more globally competitive.
These are all part of Edmonton Global’s white paper, “Road to Recovery”, which was developed in collaboration with economists, industry and economic development partners. It’s a guide to support the Government of Alberta in developing its economic stimulus and recovery measures.
We could not have predicted what has happened over the past months, but we can be the architects of the kind of economic future we want for our province and future generations.