Edmonton Global is hoping to take the region, including St. Albert, to the global stage through a collaborative effort aimed at bringing investment to the area.
The regional economic development corporation, which includes 15 municipal members, officially launched its campaign on Thursday to promote the Edmonton Metropolitan Region as a designation for global business investment, international trade and job creation. A launch event was held at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton where dozens of dignitaries, politicians and business representatives attended.
Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global, said promoting the region on the global stage has been challenging in the past with many of those previous efforts coming off as fragmented.
“Individual communities have been out doing the good that they do but presenting it in a way that, from a global market perspective, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” he said. “The connectivity within the region is an important component of self-identifying when we are on a global stage. We can be more productive, we can get greater opportunities for investment and trade if we work collaboratively together.”
Edmonton Global plans to achieve this by offering a variety of services, including one-on-one support for businesses and site selectors, connecting companies with sector experts across all three levels of government, providing market information and on-the-ground support for companies looking to set up in Canada.
Edmonton Global is also looking to boast about the region being ranked as one of the best places to work for youth by YouthfulCities and Urban Work Index as well as highlight the work the University of Alberta is doing in artificial intelligence.
Mayor Cathy Heron said she’s excited about what Edmonton Global can bring to the region and especially liked how the company was playing up the region’s young demographic, high level of education and continued growth.
She said she sees promoting the region and the city as achieving the same goal.
“I think it is exciting,” she said. “At this artificial intelligence conference outside of Montreal, we’re going to have an Edmonton Global booth. So they can really get to work now.”
The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is also one of the fastest growing regions in Canada with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $105 billion. Bruce said one of the goals of Edmonton Global is to increase the regional GDP by three to four per cent each year.
This would equate to $3 to $4 billion each year.
Bruce said that’s a hugely ambitious target to achieve.
“We got to be big and bold,” he added. “Over 20 years, that fundamentally changes the way we look and feel here in this region. You got to remember that we’re forecasting to have another million people come into the region. That trend is backed by data and still continuing. We need to recognize where we are going to be in the future.”
The launch event also featured a number of panellists who spoke about some of the challenges facing the region. Some suggested the region take a bolder approach like in the United States while still keeping some of that Canadian humility. Prof. Jonathan Schaeffer, who is with the University of Alberta’s faculty of science, spoke about how the region was losing ground to larger centres like Toronto and Montreal.
“We’re getting smoked,” he said. “They’re thinking outside of the box, they’re aggressive, they’re bold, they’re visionary. We’re following a tried and true recipe. We have some real or perceived disadvantages that we have to overcome. Maybe our geographic location, maybe the cold, things like that. We want to win. We need to think differently. We’re not hungry enough.”