The Alberta Advantage is often associated with Alberta’s boom years. When the price of oil is high, people flock here from all over Canada, employment skyrockets, construction multiplies and people become more affluent. The west becomes a place where you can make a name for yourself. It becomes a little bit wild.
In many ways, that defines the Alberta Advantage: a wide open plain where you can forge your own success – historically, in oil and gas. But linking the Alberta Advantage directly to the booms of one specific industry is what makes the busts so damn painful.
To me, the Alberta Advantage represents the entrepreneurial spirit of the people that have chosen to make Alberta home. People have come to Alberta from all over Canada and have made names for themselves as innovators and business leaders. No one cares where you grew up or where you went to school. They care about your ideas and what you can contribute to keeping that Alberta Advantage alive.
The Alberta Advantage is what drives those booms and it will be what pulls us out of this bust. It’s what has enabled the people here to figure out how to get oil out of sand, clay and water and make it a key economic driver for the province. And it will be the reason we will be successful in building new and diverse economic drivers in the years to come. It’s one of the reasons I chose to make here my home and establish my business.
So what am I doing to contribute to the Alberta Advantage? I’m investing in a vibrant city. Calgary has the advantage of being one of the safest cities in Canada. I grew up in Winnipeg, four blocks away from the murder capital of Canada. Safe and vibrant cities are something I value. While affluent communities tend to be safer than less prosperous ones, investing in unique, smart development also plays a role.
Despite those boom-and-bust cycles, Calgary is constantly evolving. It’s grown from a sleepy, one-horse/business town surrounded by acreages and strip malls to a small but exciting metropolis with a growing core full of more than just energy companies.
Now there are restaurants, retail stores and other specialty businesses. People are moving back into the city centre, making it safer and more vibrant. They’re creating new and successful businesses of their own. It’s a whole new cycle.
I’m proud of the work that my company has done and continues to do to grow and diversify the Alberta Advantage. Innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit are what built this province. They’re what will pull us out of the current bust. So I’m asking each and every one of you: What’s your idea?