Sparking a global conversation
On June 20, 2019, the team at Edmonton Global set out to start a conversation. The region’s 15 mayors, including Spruce Grove’s Mayor, and the Chair of Edmonton Global’s Shareholders, Stuart Houston, were front and centre at the launch on June 20.
“We invited the region’s mayors, city councillors, business leaders, academics, economic development teams and others to the Shaw Theatre to talk about a new regional narrative we’ve been creating,” said Mayor Houston. “It’s vitally important that everyone going out into the world representing our region, and especially those connecting with foreign investors, speak with a harmonized voice about what’s happening here and why the opportunities here are so attractive.”
In 2017, the 15 municipalities that make up the Edmonton Metropolitan Region came together to create Edmonton Global. With a regional GDP of $105 billion, and a goal of increasing that by 3-4% each year, the region is prime for global attention and investment.
“Today, we’re sharing a major step forward for all of us, the launch of the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Narrative,” said CEO Malcolm Bruce. “This is the song sheet we will collectively use to align and harmonize our voices when we go out into the world representing our community.”
How does Edmonton Global and its partners start? By selling the region’s strengths. And there’s a lot to brag about.
The youngest and second fastest-growing metro region in Canada, this region is one of the most educated in the world, with over 100,000 students enrolled in university and college and growing.
It’s home to one of the top 5 Artificial Intelligence (AI) research centres in the world, ground-breaking medical advances, and emerging industries like agri-tech, cleantech, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology and alternative energy. The University of Alberta continues to put the Edmonton Metropolitan Region on a global stage with new research and inventions in almost every field imaginable.
“In the past, the Edmonton Metropolitan Region has never had a focused and collaborative approach to raising our profile around the world,” added Houston. “Today, we’re changing that. We’re getting aggressive. We’re targeting investment across a number of key sectors where we have great strengths and believe we can win.” The sectors Edmonton Global is focusing on are agriculture and food, energy and clean tech, health and life sciences, and manufacturing and advanced manufacturing. “One of the things that powers each of these sectors is artificial intelligence,” continued Houston. “The strengths in AI and machine learning born from the U of A and now being adopted in other industries, we’ve a unique story to tell. From Spruce Grove’s standpoint, we need to make sure we’re in this as well and are actively supporting local businesses to stay, expand, be attractive to outside investment, and increase trade with the world. We’re really well positioned to take advantage of what’s being done across the region, but we can’t sit back.” Every mayor and council in attendance from across the region expressed as similar stance as Houston. “We’ve got to be aggressive and look for ways to be more competitive, make it easier for businesses to invest and grow.”
To compete on an international stage, Edmonton Global stresses the importance of supporting a national message as well.
“As a country, Canada is putting a higher priority on attracting investment. And while the organization, Invest in Canada and a set of new federal policy and programs are still quite new, last year Canada hit a 3-year high of over $51 billion in foreign direct investment,” said Bruce.
Free trade agreements and the right infrastructure give the Edmonton Metropolitan Region access to the rest of the world, whether it’s by air, rail, highways, or a 373,000km pipeline network. The region has the largest airport in Canada by area and rail connections to 170 countries via the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert—the deepest port in North America and the closest port to Asia.
Lifestyle and low tax rates are another plus. The region has arts and culture, food, nature and short commute times. It’s also less than a day’s drive from the Rocky Mountains.
What’s next? The Edmonton Global team has expertise in strategy and innovation, business development, research and market intelligence to help businesses looking to invest here.
Houston’s final thoughts, “It’s about sharing a common message: The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is young, educated, and growing. It’s time for us to be unapologetically aggressive and proactive about who we are as a community. We’ve got the song sheet. Now it’s time to find a common voice.”