Calgary Economic Development

(Courtesy of calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com)

Calgary Economic Development is an amazing Calgary organization that aims to make Calgary a primary choice for people to live and do business in. According to their website, “Calgary Economic Development acts as a connector to bring businesses, organizations, government and the community together for projects and initiatives that benefit Calgary’s vitality and economic well-being.”

I got the chance to talk with, Mary Moran, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Research for Calgary Economic Development. She was able to give some insight into the great work Calgary Economic Development is doing to improve our awesome city.

Q: How have people responded to the “Be Part of the Energy” campaign?

A: The campaign has been running for 2 years now. The first year it had a national focus which was very well received Canada wide. We crossed the country with the mayor and got a tremendous response from the media. One of the best pieces of feedback we received was that when people who had relocated to Calgary went back to visit their hometown, they were proud to talk about Calgary as their new home.

In 2012, the campaign had an international focus. We took a labour mission to Ireland and Scotland with 42 Calgary Economic Development private sector partners. Both of these markets have a highly educated work force and a high unemployment rate. Our role was to tell Calgary’s story, so our partners could focus on telling theirs.

We did several weeks of pre-promotion which paid-off. We were greeted with a 1 ½ Km line of people and had 12,000 people attend the show in total. Minister Kenny was with us too, and was very well received.

Our private sector partners have hired 200 people since the mission, and we feel this is just the beginning. We understand that leaving your country is not a short-term decision, so think there will be long-term benefits from the mission well.

Q: In your opinion, how is Calgary doing on a global level?

A: Awareness of Calgary on a global level is still pretty low. We have taken “Be Part of the Energy” to the United Kingdom and China, and Alberta Tourism is doing their part increase global awareness too.

Q: What else is Calgary Economic Development doing to expand Calgary awareness globally?

A: Besides visiting the countries already mentioned, we are looking to the USA. Specific pockets, like Phoenix and Dallas, have the supply of labour we are looking for. We’ll know more about this potential initiative in 4-6 weeks.

Q: What are you doing to encourage growth within the city?

A: We focus on business retention as well as attraction. We try to improve retention by working with our private sector partners, and industry, to share best practices. We also have debates about how to combat the issues, and improve the policies, related to the Calgary economy.

We are always working with Calgary companies to see how we can support them with their growth, like keeping sub-contracting and procurement local.

Q: So if I’m a small Calgary business, and I call Calgary Economic Development for help, what happens?

A: A number of things can happen. If you want to expand globally, we have our Global Business Centre that will look at how to expand your business into global markets. We do missions to other countries you might be able to take part in. If you’re not ready to take this step with us, we can connect you to the right offices to help you do your mission.

We describe ourselves as the conduit, connector and catalyst. We are not a transaction based organization, we don’t close deals, but we help businesses close deals by identifying opportunities for them. We are a service driven model.

Q: How are you able to collect such rich information on the city?

When it comes to labour, we conduct studies. In 2012, we did an in-depth study of where the demand is versus where the supply is within the world. We dug further by asking what the propensity for workers in high supply areas was to relocate. In the USA, one of the biggest challenges facing those who might want to relocate is, “Can I sell my house?” The Province has since continued this study further.

Q: What is the most awesome part of living in Calgary for you?

A: There is not just one thing, there are three things:

  1. The people. I’ve lived Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler, and in comparison this is an incredibly friendly and welcoming city. It  doesn’t matter who you are, or what your last name is.
  2. Calgary is a city that tells you why you can do something, not why you can’t.
  3. I love the active life style this city allows.

Big thanks to Mary for her time, and explaining  the great work of Calgary Economic Development. It’s great to know we have an organization like this doing so much to keep our city awesome.