Innovations in agriculture, technology being born in Calgary and Alberta

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CALGARY —
The Calgary Stampede is an event that needed to be held in 2021 for not only the psychology of Calgarians but also the economy of the city, says the chair of Calgary Economic Development.

As the weeks led up to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, some were concerned about whether or not it should be held due to a potential risk of COVID-19 infection.

However, with vaccination rates up and active cases dropping, the benefits of holding the event now are much sweeter.

“It generates a huge amount of economic benefit for the city in tourism,” said Joe Lougheed, chair of Calgary Economic Development. “It’s integral for the city.”

While many also feel the traditions of the Stampede could make it feel like Calgary is stuck in the past, Lougheed says that’s not true for the city’s economy.

“We’re very proud of our history in Calgary and in Alberta, but we’re a lot more than the Stampede. We’re a magnet for new Canadians around the world and our economy is thriving.”

That’s supported by some of the latest figures from the Conference Board of Canada, which forecasts a 6.1 per cent increase in Alberta’s real gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 and 3.5 per cent next year.

“Our tech sector is growing, oil and gas is coming back, agriculture is doing great. There’s a lot of positive momentum.”

About the growth in the agriculture sector, Lougheed says a number of different companies are stepping up with new innovations to help put Calgary and Alberta on the map.

“When the world is needing clean, safe, reliable food and reliable supply chains, Alberta and Calgary is a distribution hub. We’ve got all the ingredients, no pun intended, for a safe supply for the world.”

CALGARY DOING ITS PART TO TRAIN SKILLED WORKERS

According to the latest Statistics Canada report, Alberta lost approximately 37,000 jobs in June and saw the province’s youth unemployment rate jump to the highest in the country at 18.1 per cent.

Lougheed says it will simply take time to recover from such high numbers of unemployment and institutions in Calgary can help ensure more young people are prepared for the labour force.

“Groups like SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology), U of C (and) Bow Valley College, a lot of it is retraining our youth for the jobs of tomorrow. That’s not something that’s just happening in Calgary, it’s happening in all the cities across Canada.

“You need to attract talent and train the talent for the new tech jobs of the future. That’s happening and it doesn’t just happen overnight.”

(With files from BNN’s Tara Weber)

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