Edmonton is facing a new economic reality with the price of oil unlikely to rise much above $60 a barrel in the foreseeable future, economists say.
We asked each ward candidate in the Oct. 16 municipal election what action Edmonton should take to support job creation. A series of thoughtful responses focused on cutting red tape for growing local businesses and support emerging industries in technology and health care.
“We need to streamline processes for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Too often, it’s complicated, expensive and daunting to get started,” said Ward 8 candidate Kirsten Goa, calling on Edmonton to shift resources — enforce against the bad apples rather than front-loading the process for everyone.
Out of 66 responses, at least 21 called for reducing costs and red tape. Nine focused on attracting and keeping young talent through urban planning initiatives.
“Attracting and retaining younger generations is vital to our continued growth and sustainability. Those generations want to see more environmentally conscious approaches, including bike lanes and mass transit,” said Ward 9 candidate Tim Cartmell.
“As we’ve seen from the recent Amazon request for proposals for their new headquarters, businesses that will create jobs want a liveable city,” said Ward 11 candidate Troy Pavlek. “The bike lanes which we like to call ‘controversial’ are specifically demanded twice in the document in order to bring 50,000 high-paid employees here.”
Others focused on buying local, or on infrastructure spending — not just because of the city it creates, but also for construction jobs.
“The building of new and renewing existing roads, hospitals and schools likewise will stimulate the economy and create jobs,” said Ward 2 candidate Shelley Tupper.
Technology and the knowledge economy was a big focus. Others saw potential for manufacturing, specifically if Edmonton could capitalize on good cargo connections through the international airport.
“Edmonton should be marketed as a western Canadian fulfilment hub for large foreign online retailers,” said Ward 12 candidate Mike Russnak.
Job creation — in their words:
Edmonton is facing a new economic reality with oil under $60 a barrel for the foreseeable future. What steps should the city take to support job creation?
We have many areas that require infrastructure upgrades and continual maintenance on city properties. There are opportunities for companies to create jobs through public tenders in snow removal, parks maintenance, etc. Improved infrastructure opens access to new businesses in areas which previously didn’t exist.
We need to hold the line on spending so we can freeze tax and fee increases, so people and businesses aren’t choked by ever-increasing city levies. Then we should look at updating and reducing regulations to make it easier for businesses to start up and grow.
I believe the city’s role is to improve the process and support the organizations that focus on economic development, for example TEC Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development Corp., and Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. When these groups come forward with suggestions on how we can improve our business competitiveness, we need to be nimble and willing to make those changes.
Finally, with the Edmonton metropolitan region working together more closely, we will be more competitive globally and therefore we can attract new businesses as a group rather than competing against one another. This will create more jobs across the entire region.
Reduce and minimize the bureaucratic red tape to set up businesses. Keep business regulations simple, reasonable and as unobtrusive as possible. Edmonton has an abundance of technology trained people, market these to businesses world-wide.
I think the city’s role is to attract new business and demonstrate we are open for business. I support the work of EEDC and the new Regional Economic Development Partnership to attract a diversified set of businesses.
I would continue to support the work on Edmonton as a Health City and the work in technology as artificial intelligence provides opportunity to create new jobs. Locally, I would continue to support business improvement associations’ events and activities.
Small and medium businesses are the backbone of Edmonton’s economy. Municipal interference with entrepreneurs needs to be absolutely minimal so as not to discourage small business development with endless red tape and bureaucracy.
Rules regarding safety and public wellness need to be maintained, of course, but many bureaucratic hurdles could be relaxed and still maintain good order in the city and allow small businesses to flourish.
Council also needs to make Edmonton an attractive place for workers from other areas to relocate to, so we can have the best and brightest employees from across Canada.
Advocating for funding from the federal and provincial governments has been successful. Earlier this year, the federal government committed to supporting existing subsidies for affordable housing, to fund renovating existing units and to build new units of housing. The funding will serve two purposes: providing needed housing and job creation.
The provincial government is investing in infrastructure in the Edmonton area; the building of new and renewing existing roads, hospitals and schools likewise will stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Advocating further needs of the city must continue with both levels of government.
I am happy municipal workers are well paid and routine city work should be completed by city employees, but the primarily function of a municipal government is not for job creation.
A municipal government should be concerned with both service delivery to the neediest and the efficient use of taxpayer money to maintain roads, sidewalks, parks, libraries, transit and emergency services, etc. Through marketing, targeted investments and an attractive business environment, the city should encourage the private sector to create jobs in diversified fields.
One of the things that helped to shelter Edmonton during the economic downturn was our construction and development, particularly in the downtown core with the new arena and the Ice District. I believe we need to continue to encourage that growth.
We need to continue to develop Blatchford and we now have an opportunity to possibly redevelop the Northlands site. Done right, that could really help improve that area of the city. We need to continue to develop our transit system and offer different housing options to keep our young people and attract businesses.
We can’t do it without the help of provincial and federal governments. Having said that, small businesses make up 95 per cent of all businesses in Alberta. Over the years, small businesses in Alberta have generated more GDP per capita than almost any other Canadian province, far exceeding the national average
To attract multinationals like Amazon, you have to cut taxes to almost zero. This is one thing Quebec did to attract pharmaceutical companies in the ’60s and all the bigger players are still there. If you are willing to give concessions to large multinationals, they will create lots of jobs. Japan just recently opened up their refinery in Fort McMurray. Worker dollars earned are spent in your communities = growth.
Tourism creates many jobs. We live in a beautiful part of our country. With all the advancements in social media and communications, we can better advertise our city to attract tourism.
Globalization is a crucial step in advancing our economy and creating jobs. Larger businesses have the resources to operate internationally that smaller businesses are lacking. Edmonton needs to assist smaller businesses in entering foreign markets, which will create more jobs.
Reducing payroll tax will result in people having more money to spend, which drives the economy. As well, companies saving money through tax cuts have more money to hire new employees.
I proposed removing all licensing fees for first-time business owners.
This proposal is a way to reduce the financial burden of first-time business owners and help them get their businesses off the ground. The cost for business licences in Edmonton varies depending on what type of business you wish to open. It can be absurdly expensive, potentially costing $18,000 a year.
Some may argue that the city utilizes these fees to provide services to citizens. But if we create a climate of opportunity and incentive, we can grow the overall economy and the tax base. City council too often stifles economic growth with obstruction and red tape.
This is time for the city to develop its infrastructure. The city should work more closely with the federal and provincial governments to reinvigorate the economy through infrastructure development.
This way, more employment will be created, our young adults finishing school will not have to travel far to get employment. Service providers and local businesses will be engaged. Encourage more entrepreneurship by reducing government taxation at start up. Make municipal government services more efficient to citizens.
By providing better incentives and making it easier for businesses to choose Edmonton. Attracting a better ratio on non-residential taxes shifts the tax burden away from the respondents. We can achieve this providing better access to incentives like facade and corner stores programming, better small business incubators and to finally start exploring shared servicing agreements with industry.
We have an opportunity in Horse Hill, and the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park, to help create and retain employment in Edmonton.
Edmonton is at the forefront of a growing technology and knowledge industry. I will advocate for supports for these businesses as they bring in jobs and local economic activity, and promote the use of local manufacturing and building companies in city projects and programs.
Also, Edmonton can support job creation by including local business while designing neighbourhoods so communities have access to these businesses on Day 1. These businesses can grow with the communities they live in.
Finally, we should use general infrastructure development in the northeast to support our growing population. Edmontonians across the city can use that infrastructure to access northeast Edmonton businesses.
I support construction work, which has hitherto sustained a level of growth in the province. With infrastructure spending from the feds and the province, we can expect growth to continue. For the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park, we can start the manufacture of petrochemical products.
Diversification has been a buzz word in Alberta for the last 25 years. While this is a forte of the feds and the province, we need to put in place measurable goals. In my experience as a small business person, I do not sense a robust system in place to achieve this.
We need to support infill development in the right areas. More construction in some of these areas will lead to more jobs and also local businesses thriving, with having a larger pool customer base.
We need to do our best to source our materials, people and resources from within Edmonton.
Council needs to ensure that we work with local companies whenever possible on major projects. This will provide much-needed jobs to Edmontonians and prioritize them over non-local workers and businesses.
We also need to support local artists; we have a lot of talent here. Why are we always outsourcing when we have so much talent in our city?
I would create an environment that would foster entrepreneurial growth, attract talent and large companies. I would recommend increasing infrastructure spending and forming close partnerships with support from federal and provincial governments. With all these ideas put together, this would make the job-seeking process more efficient.
I have been in the oil and gas business for nearly 20 years and have survived three slowdowns. In fact, oil has been hovering under $60 barrel for nearly two years. I would think that city council will have drafted priority plans for their capital projects. Oil revenues continue to push our province’s revenue; however, the city must not be waiting for oil prices to return.
I am not a believer that the city creates jobs, because I do not believe public service jobs are the answer. Instead, the city should look to creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs and support small- to medium-size business with programs, incentives and tax relief. What we should be creating is a culture where business is diversified to emerging technologies, promoted and welcomed. I believe we should create entrepreneur facilities so that people may receive training, support and mentoring in operating a business.
We need to support small businesses in our community, as well as industry.
Many residents of northeast Edmonton work in refineries in the Heartland. I will continue the work of councillor Ed Gibbons and be an active member of the Industrial Heartland so that I can play a hands-on role supporting the industries that employ so many families in our communities.
I will also work with city planners to attract more small businesses to the northeast. Small businesses will allow families in the northeast to shop, socialize and play in their community. They will also employ people in their community so families can work and live here in northeast Edmonton.
I believe Edmonton must continue to innovate, but must do so in a way that is sustainable for the long term. Alberta’s current economic reality demands that we invest in economic diversification. I intend to deliver on the Edmonton Energy and Technology Park, and believe it will be a significant driver of growth for Ward 4 and the Capital Region.
Edmonton keeps losing out on major industrial projects to neighbouring municipalities like Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewan.
Edmonton can attract investment and the tax dollars it brings by committing to keep taxes low, and investing in well-thought-out road infrastructure and transit. This currently isn’t happening.
Our city has the unique ability to steward the economy and must continue to diversify our economic base. As a former small business owner, I know how hard it can be to create jobs when the economy shrinks.
To support job creation, Edmonton must support our small and medium businesses to grow locally and beyond by: implementing the second phase of the “Made in Edmonton” initiative to celebrate and connect local businesses, positioning Edmonton as a world-class innovation city and continue to build our city infrastructure in order to attract and retain skilled individuals and businesses.
In recent years, Edmonton has become a hotspot for entrepreneurs and innovation. Small-business owners are the biggest job creators in our city and they need continued support to make it through these tough economic times. This means reducing red tape, like unnecessarily long waiting times for permits and licences, is vital. This also means having a clear understanding about how municipal decisions, such as roadway closures or increasing property taxes, impact local businesses.
Having a clear plan for the future of our city will give entrepreneurs the confidence to do business in Edmonton.
The city has many avenues it can take to support job creation in an era of lower oil prices. With lower energy prices comes lower commodity prices. These lower prices bring down the costs of many capital projects. The city can seize this lower cost opportunity investing in construction and development projects.
City council should continue this investment and work with the other orders of government and private industry partners to take advantage of this opportunity. The city should also diversify the economy through strengthening relationships with regional municipalities, ensuring permitting and licensing services are accessible for all sizes of businesses.
There is a technology boom globally. The Edmonton Economic and Development Corp. talked about a brand for Edmonton when I was in attendance at the last election meeting. Edmonton could jump on tech development. Soon there will be self-driving cars, trucks, trains and equipment.
There is also artificial intelligence, for example, robotics, that can make decisions. We need to start yesterday to catch up; Edmonton needs to become a technology leader. This diversification avenue would create the next generation technology jobs for the city. This is the footprint that I would like to make for our city.
The economic reality has changed with lower oil prices seen as the new norm. We need to support economic diversification and job creation in Edmonton. Working with regional partners, Edmonton will be more successful in attracting new businesses to locate in Edmonton.
There is also work to be done to encourage and support small businesses to establish and succeed in Edmonton. Through addressing challenges in the permitting processes and making it easier for home-based businesses, we can support economic success and job creation in Edmonton.
As your future councillor, I would help our city create attractive opportunities for investors, which would enhance the development of diverse industries, create jobs and a thriving environment for people to come and stay in Edmonton.
I will also capitalize on our local tourism industry. Tourism brings more employment opportunities, new economic activities and stimulates a market for development of arts and culture and better preservation of our heritage.
I also believe that we need to involve the labour market players in a dialogue with the Alberta educational system to create a better chance of retaining our graduates.
New business and market development strategies are certainly needed, but it’s about more than the current jobs gap and counter-balancing our reliance on the oil and gas sector. It’s about permanent global changes and our long-term future.
We’re living in the early stages of a fourth industrial revolution; artificial intelligence, automation and green technologies are changing the world around us. I’d begin with tax incentives for investments and SMEs willing to start businesses in these sectors, along with continued partnerships and support for organizations moving in this direction through the EEDC.
The city’s role is to set the stage with top-drawer infrastructure and services that attract and retain investment and talent.
For emerging generations, LRT expansion, bike paths and efficient transit are key. Edmonton was the first Canadian city to create a working bylaw for ride-share companies.
The knowledge economy is focused around post-secondary and core neighbourhoods. Creating a range of attainable housing is critical. One example: my office is working on a shipping-container apartment project for Boyle Street.
Ultimately, council must demand administration work the kinks out of permitting processes. A robust business climate will falter under a disjointed bureaucracy.
In 2008, while in Montreal, I came across a group of accountants discussing the world economy … We came to city council and told them what was going to happen. Our team also advised the Obama administration and EU leaders. In 2014, I came to city council warning we are headed to another bust. If you recall, oil prices were over $100 a barrel. We said it would hover around $60 for the next five to 10 years and we were correct. We never said after the fact like the boring city economist and others.
Get away from trying to manage people’s businesses. The licensing process is painfully slow, cumbersome, and in many areas, unnecessary. This drives people looking to start their own business — the single-biggest contributor to job creation over the past few years — to other localities.
Further, the city should be planning transportation options more around moving people to and from job sites, and not to and from the downtown core. This would make getting and holding a job easier and more feasible for many people looking to our city for their future.
Edmonton is poised to lead the nation in artificial intelligence (AI). Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in several projects with the city’s Analytics Centre of Excellence. From optimizing our response to community concerns about used needles in playgrounds to forecasting crime, I have first-hand experience of the power and potential of this discipline and would champion its growth.
At a community level, my focus will be on small business. From Alberta Avenue to Abbottsfield, there are too many vacant lots in what could be prime real estate developments. When it comes to small business growth and the job creation that it could bring to Ward 7, there is nothing but potential.
Andrzej (Andy) Gudanowski
I would like to know more about this subject. However, I know well how to create hundreds of jobs in the hospitality sector, in services, and in the security industry. You will find all this idea on social media — Facebook.
The biggest component to supporting job creation is to continue to focus on Edmonton’s competitive advantage in attracting workers and investment by continuing to build an Edmonton that is globally recognized as a great place to live, go to school, visit and invest in.
In order to diversify our economy and create a culture of innovation, sustainability and environmental responsibility for business small and large, we need to continue to see our diversity as our strength and strategy to attract and retain a strong workforce.
I would make an effort to make it easier to open a business in Edmonton. We do not make it easy to do that. The permit process is long and there is no one at the city who seems interested in helping someone clear the many hoops.
We need fewer and clearer regulations and we need to provide better service to someone looking to take the plunge.
I support continued capital projects, especially now to keep people working. Prices are favourable and borrowing rates are also favourable. Now is the right time to invest in much-needed infrastructure capital.
Self-employed small business operators are an important part of our diversifying economy. The city needs to evaluate whether the support we provide is giving them value for the money we take through licensing.
I have also heard numerous complaints from business owners that the non-residential tax they pay has sky-rocketed. We’ve got to make sure that we aren’t taxing these companies out of business. We need to keep our mill rate competitive with other jurisdictions that are trying to attract the same jobs we are.
Lastly, we need to look at whether the old ways of economic development serve us in the new economy. What will retail trade look like in the future? How do we adapt to the ways technological innovation is changing the ways we live, work, shop and produce things?
The city should work with Edmonton Economic Development and have them develop a long-term plan to present back to city council that would help attract businesses to Edmonton.
We need to streamline processes for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Too often, it’s complicated, expensive and daunting to get started. I’d like to see us shift resources to the accountability side and put more into enforcement, rather than front-load the process for innovators. Right now, it seems backwards — innovators get stuck, and those who shirk their responsibilities often get away with it.
I also want to see a living wage policy for City of Edmonton employees and contractors. People making a living wage are able to spend more money in our community, creating demand for more services and jobs.
We must continue our efforts to diversify our economy. The fact that Edmonton has not been hit nearly as hard as Calgary by this downturn is evidence that we have made some progress on this road, but our efforts to build our future prosperity on more than oil and gas must continue.
This must include a focus on home-grown businesses. This is a city that innovates and creates; the idea that we can create prosperity by attracting a big operation to transfer here has never been as successful as encouraging our local innovation. This includes a continued commitment to post-secondary education and the continued growth of sectors like health, information technology, banking, engineering, gaming and digital media.
I would like to see Edmonton city council embrace the PACE (Property-Assessed Clean Energy) initiative currently taking place in some U.S. cities. We could help residents dramatically improve the energy efficiency of their homes and create jobs in the process for local firms and individuals in the trades. This would help reduce the city’s carbon footprint and lower energy costs for ratepayers at the same time — win/win!
I would also like to see council adopt policies to provide incentives for more local community-based businesses and clean energy technology to diversify our economy.
City council needs to engage with the Edmonton Economic Development Corp. (EEDC) and all networks of business leaders and stakeholders to come up with ideas to help the city grow and thrive.
Based on those ideas, we need to create effective programs and initiatives that have the buy-in of the business community and that benefit both businesses and the local community. I think we need to encourage innovative small business owners and startups to help create new jobs and opportunities in growing industries such as technology and green initiatives.
There is a great opportunity here for many citizens to become creative and get involved in new start-up companies in renewable energy, clean technology, fashion, manufacturing and services.
We have thousands of highly qualified individuals graduating from our local universities and technical schools every year. We need to keep them here so that they grow their businesses locally. The city needs to invest in these start-ups and our upcoming generation of workers. We can do this by developing a methodology for big investment and sustainable growth that assists businesses through their life cycle. So ‘Let’s Make It Happen.’
The city cannot “create” jobs, but it can provide a supportive environment so business can create employment.
We cannot turn our backs on the massive employment that Edmonton’s oilfield service companies provide. However, we must acknowledge that attracting and retaining younger generations is vital to our continued growth and sustainability. Those generations want to see more environmentally conscious approaches, including bike lanes and mass transit. Such investments are as much about economic development as recreation or transportation.
The city needs to provide the built infrastructure and development environment that makes Edmonton an attractive place for businesses and their employees.
I follow Alberta’s economy on a daily basis, and the good news is we have seen signs of improvement. That said, there is still an 8.5 per cent unemployment rate in Edmonton, or roughly 70,000 people.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to some, now is a good time to spend money on infrastructure projects while they are cheaper, interest rates are low, and it can stimulate the economy by more than the dollars spent due to the multiplier effect.
We also have a need for expanding the LRT system, including a southern extension of the Capital Line, and improved roadways such as turning Terwillegar Drive into the freeway it was meant to be. I am also very interested in attracting Amazon’s second headquarters, which would bring billions of dollars and 50,000 jobs with it.
Jobs are created by business. Business owners understand the language of business owners and have a willingness to engage with this community to see our local business grow.
An enthusiastic team comprised of motivated economic development members could draw economic investment projects such as ‘Port Alberta’ to Edmonton. This would not only create jobs for our city, but work to diversify our economy in an effort to be less dependent on any given commodity. Our energy sector needs a strong voice to advocate for the highest-standard industry on the globe and to promote more refining of our natural resources locally.
City council sets the tone for encouraging business investments to come and stay. Alberta has been too dependent on oil. It is sad that years of government talk on diversification never came to fruition. I believe strong political will makes things happen.
Advancement in finance, technology, agriculture and construction, medical research to education, all can be brewed here successfully and be world class. Environmental technology and cleaner extraction methods of oil can be created and be exported to other countries. Our workforce will be less vulnerable to boom and bust cycles. We can be the Silicone Valley of the North.
I envision Edmonton as a manufacturing and distribution hub. This city is perfectly situated to become a distribution and transportation hub for national and international markets. A hub that would be augmented by a diverse manufacturing economy.
Edmonton has the research and development infrastructure, entrepreneurial acumen, skilled labour force and land to support a thriving manufacturing and distribution hub that supports and supplements the oil and gas industry as well as other non-oil and gas industries.
We have hundreds of small- and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs whose products we can help expand to national and international markets. I see an Edmonton that encourages business to make Edmonton their home, a city where national and international markets are financially within reach, and where the cost of operation makes sense.
First step is to stop the blame game that we should have diversified Alberta’s economy while the oil prices were above $100 and start collaborating with the provincial and federal government on this.
I would also like to reach out to other city officials around the country rather than competing with each other, when possible. If we can do this as a part of a more coordinated effort where priority investment areas are identified based on each city’s strengths, we could get more funding and support for our own initiatives.
1. Celebrate our success in the business community and help companies who have been here for 40 years adapt and continue to grow.
2. Continue to foster important partnerships with our post-secondary institutions to commercialize important research and knowledge.
3. Implement our energy transition, climate change adaptation and industrial land strategies, which are each focused on economic diversification.
4. Continue to be a leader in regional economic collaboration through ongoing support for Edmonton Global.
5. Constrain tax increases.
Glenda K. Williams
Attract more businesses to Edmonton through incentives and partnerships with post-secondary education.
By investing in solar panels and renewables, we can create jobs while saving in energy and getting future revenues. Yes, it is that simple.
These are tough but exciting times. In Edmonton we have a strong, diverse and resilient business community. We now need to ensure that we can retain our skilled workforce, and support our local small to medium businesses while also attracting new ones.
To support job creation the City of Edmonton should ensure that Edmonton Economic Development Corp. (EEDC) stays focused on their “Drivers of Economic Success” to attract new investment, new tourists, new meetings and conventions, new major events; all while growing new and existing businesses, support local talent and students and work hard to attract and maintain direct flights.
The city needs to lower taxes for businesses and to create incentive programs within the city limits to attract more companies to come here. I believe by doing this, they will employ more people, for example, Amazon.
As the only sitting councillor who is a businessman running for re-election, I am painfully aware as to what our business community’s needs are.
First, we need to dramatically reduce the administrative red tape on our business community. These problems range for long permitting times to an noncompetitive tax structure that pushes industry into the waiting arms of our competitors.
Second, we need real business-sensitive leadership to help find new markets for our companies. We need more than just proclamations and edicts from EEDC and City Hall, but industry champions that will help us shape and identify specific opportunities we can land.
Many candidates will default to “lower taxes” as their mantra to attract business. Frankly, I think that approach from a city is short-sighted.
As we’ve seen from the recent Amazon request for proposals for their new headquarters, businesses that will create jobs want a liveable city. They want efficient mass transit, they want pedestrian safety. The bike lanes which we like to call “controversial” are specifically demanded twice in the document in order to bring 50,000 high-paid employees here.
Unincorporated land tends to have quite low taxes; businesses want to operate in great places to live.
The city should facilitate job creation by attracting more global companies to Edmonton, while making it easier for Edmontonians to start and grow businesses locally. Globally, from DeepMind to the Merk and Chinese Accelerator, Edmonton is encouraging young innovators to become the city’s next generation of job creators.
Locally, I will work to streamline city permit processes so that they empower entrepreneurs and cultivate new job opportunities. If we encourage businesses to develop and thrive in Ward 11, residents will have more opportunities and our neighbourhoods will be revitalized by newcomers.
Moe (Mohinder) Banga
Great cities that diversify, tapping into new ideas and innovation, prove to persevere in the long run.
When we speak about diversification, we need to look at industries that aren’t related to or support oil and gas: health care, health-tech, bolstering a tourism industry, which means investing in a vibrant culture, entertainment and sports scene. Edmonton needs to be not only be a destination for companies, but for tourists.
Given my experience in technology, my goal is to help generate a startup culture for high-tech companies, allowing them the use of vacant office space as a business incubator. Attracting venture capital is a key component of this, similar to the work done by the City of Calgary.
Secondly, Edmonton has a prime geographical location to act as a supply chain hub in North America, by rail, vehicle and air. The area around EIA would be an ideal location. Local manufacturing would also benefit by ensuring products can get to market quickly and cheaply.
Edmonton has the opportunity to take advantage of something which already exists: Port Alberta. This Foreign Trade Zone is one of only a few sites of its kind in all of Canada and is serviced by road, rail and air carriers to allow rapid shipping of exported and imported goods.
Edmonton should be marketed as a Western Canadian fulfilment hub for large foreign online retailers, thereby reducing Canadian customer delivery times and parcel-by-parcel customs and brokerage fees. Amazon.com’s recent request for proposals to build a second North American Headquarters is enticing, but their request is not only limited to Canadian cities. We need to build a compelling business case to market the City of Edmonton to other online retailers. Let’s knock on their door first.
We need to attract other business sectors such as technology and renewable resources, leverage our partnerships with our great post-secondary institutions, and support our local small business enterprises by ensuring we aren’t restricting the way they are able to do business and expand their operations.
We need to look to other industries. Some great options are the medical field and technology companies. We already have a respectable reputation in these fields and need to offer incentives to attract more companies to move their headquarters here.
I would push to create medical and technology business parks where we could offer property tax breaks to these companies so they can grow and create jobs. I would also work with local resources such as the U of A and MacEwan University to have internships and sessional lecturers. These industries also have great synergies to promote further growth.