A BRIEF Look at the Alberta Economy

Feb 26 2013

Lindsay Dodd

MacEwan University School of Business hosted its third BRIEF (Business Research Information Exchange Forum) event in the early morning of Tuesday, February 26, entitled “Overcoming Constraints in the Alberta Economy." The audience, made up primarily of representatives from the business community, paid close attention to the opening keynote speaker, Lindsay Dodd, chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Savvia Inc.

Mr. Dodd started his talk by sharing insights on the shifts in economic positioning, discussing Edmonton’s positives as an urban centre of the north, not a gateway to it. One positive is the incredible number of jobs created in Edmonton and area last year. Edmonton led the province with 26,000 of the 41,000 new Alberta jobs in 2012. However, additional jobs do not necessarily equate to a new workforce, with Alberta companies once again looking nationally and internationally for new talent.

The second constraint identified by Dodd is the city’s infrastructure, rated as “poor to very poor," with a large number of projects on the books, but little prioritization. The future Arena District is seen as a real positive by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, which utilizes it as a recruiting tool. Increased vibrancy of the downtown core can be used to showcase quality of life in Edmonton, even in the cold of January.

The third constraint centred on the Gateway pipeline project, which Dodd indicated should be viewed as a national energy project, not an Albertan one. And the fourth constraint identified was the instability of the Alberta economy, which is heavily dependent on the oil and gas sector. One solution may be diversification, which could include the city becoming an education hub of the north. Dodd suggested Edmonton could even go as far as to capitalize on its northern climate, stating “we could use our northern expertise to become a cold weather technology and architectural design hub”. “Can you picture shopping carts made here? Big wheels!”, Dodd jokes as he gives an example of what this northern technology could look like.

Mr. Dodd wrapped up his talk by stating that a commitment to creativity, the community, and strong leadership will ultimately carry the day. This was an excellent segue into the second portion of MacEwan BRIEF, the panel discussion, for which Lindsay Dodd, was joined by panelists:

  • Danielle Bragge, Founding Partner of The Headhunters
  • Don Diduck, Alberta Congress Board
  • Dr. Michael Roberts, Assistant Professor, MacEwan University School of Business
  • Dr. Leo Wong, Assistant Professor, MacEwan University School of Business

The panelists fielded questions from the audience, many of which focused on the current workforce crisis, strategies for foreign workers, and indigenous relations as they relate to the Alberta economy.

MacEwan BRIEF is an initiative of MacEwan University School of Business. Its purpose is to provide venues for collaboration and idea exchange on business research between MacEwan University and our business community. For more information on the next BRIEF event in April (date tba), visit www.MacEwan.ca/BRIEF.