If you’re familiar with Edmonton Global, you know that our primary focus is on bringing in new business and investment to the Edmonton region. We do this by providing a concierge level of service for investors considering locating to the region by connecting them to our ecosystem and helping them navigate our unique business landscape. When we talk with potential investors, the question that they often lead with is: “What about hiring? Can we get the kind of talent we need? Can we get enough talent?” Well, the answer is a solid “Yes.” It’s a big part of why our region’s story is so attractive. We’re young, educated, and growing – and 2024 is looking like it’s going to be another stellar year. Let’s dive into why I’m feeling so optimistic.
The Edmonton region experienced its highest-ever migration in 2022, welcoming over 45,000 new residents, including a record-breaking 33,000 international newcomers. Projections indicate continued growth in 2023, with an estimated 44,000 newcomers, and an additional approximately ~110,000 over the following four years. The forecast for 2024 suggests nearly 29,000 new additions, but considering recent major projects in the region, a revision upwards is plausible once the final figures are available. The City of Edmonton’s forecast anticipates almost 1.7 million residents in the region within four years, while the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board projects a population of 2 million by 2026.
Figure 1. Historic and Forecast Sources of Population Increase in the Edmonton Region by Year
Over the past two decades, the Edmonton region stands out as the only major Canadian city without a single year of net outmigration to other cities within the province. In most provinces, and especially in some of Canada’s biggest cities, folks are moving out of the major centres to smaller communities. Once again, we’re bucking that trend – from 2002 to 2022, the Edmonton region enjoyed the largest average number of intercity migration. This highlights the Edmonton region as not only a preferred destination for international immigrants and other Canadians, but also as a magnet for a substantial number of Albertans.
Figure 2. Annual Net Intercity Migration by Canadian City (2002-2022)
With a projected 2.9% growth rate in 2023, Edmonton is anticipated to lead GDP growth among all Canadian cities. Following this, from 2024 to 2027, it is expected to trail only Windsor, Ontario, in terms of GDP growth, as indicated in Figure 5. The Edmonton region is set to outperform provincial and national projections until 2027, with the Conference Board of Canada forecasting growth rates of 2.3% for Alberta and 2.0% for Canada, compared to a more robust 2.7% for the region during the same period.
Figure 3. Real GDP Growth by Canadian City over Time (%)
Source: Conference Board of Canada, 2023.
This growth is fueled by significant capital projects, including construction for Dow’s $8.9 billion polyethylene manufacturing facility which is slated to begin this year. Ongoing projects such as Air Product’s $1.6 billion net-zero hydrogen energy complex and Imperial’s $720 million biofuel project in Strathcona County are also contributing to this momentum.
At nearly 40%, the majority of all major construction projects in the province are situated in the Edmonton region – and we expect more to be announced shortly. Wood Buffalo follows our region closely, as the second-largest contributor to these projects.
Figure 4. Total Construction Activity in Alberta by Sector and Subregion
As we move into the new year, the Edmonton region is on an upward trajectory with projections to be the fastest-growing region in Canada. With a compelling narrative, a growing population, and a dynamic ecosystem, the Edmonton region continues to be an excellent destination for investment.
If you want to learn more about tech financing in the Edmonton region or want to chat more with me on this topic (or any other topic in my DYK series), reach out using the form below:
Jeff Bell is the Director of Research and Business Intelligence at Edmonton Global. His knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep – and when a question arises, he enjoys digging deep into the data to provide solid defensible research that can inform strategy.
Reach out to Jeff if you know of an innovative business that should be tied into his network.