EEDC’s 2010 Economic Outlook Luncheon

Today I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Economic Outlook Luncheon, hosted by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) at the Shaw Conference Centre. More than 700 people attended. In addition to lunch and networking, the event featured an expert panel offering insight into the year ahead. The panelists included:

  • Hon. Iris Evans, Minister of Finance & Enterprise, Government of Alberta
  • Leo de Bever, CEO, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo)
  • John Hokanson, retired entrepreneur
  • Dave Mowat, CEO, ATB Financial
  • Dr. Mike Percy, Dean of the School of Business, University of Alberta

Lesley MacDonald moderated, and EEDC President & CEO Ron Gilbertson gave the opening and closing remarks. Each panelist had an opportunity to make some remarks, and then members of the audience could ask questions. I live tweeted the event – here are some of the highlights:

  • Opening remarks from EEDC’s Ron Gilbertson: Canada’s economy is above average, Alberta and Edmonton average in Canada. #yeg
  • Iris Evans: over $1 billion, that’s the amount of aerospace and defence projects in #Alberta. #yeg #yyc
  • Leo de Bever: to have financial sustainability in #Alberta going forward, we need productivity growth.
  • John Hokanson says the livestock industry in #Alberta is shrinking at an alarming rate, affecting the entire agriculture industry.
  • John Hokanson says #Alberta and #yeg government spending are on unsustainable trajectories.
  • Dr. Mike Percy says it’s capital investment, particularly oilsands, that will lead #Alberta out of the recession, not consumers. #yeg
  • Dr. Mike Percy says a climate change policy in Canada not integrated with the US would be "insane at best". #yeg
  • Dr. Mike Percy says looking ahead, expect growth of about 2% in #Alberta, and it’ll be more robust north of Red Deer. #yeg
  • John Hokanson says young ppl entering the #Alberta workforce recently have no idea what goes into a day’s work. #yeg
  • Iris Evans says the new Alberta Art Gallery will be a very positive thing for #yeg and we need to recognize that.
  • Ron Gilbertson: #Alberta is one of the highest wage regions in North America. To compete, we need increased productivity. #yeg

I enjoyed economics enough during my time at the University of Alberta to minor it the subject, but I admit I felt quite rusty listening to the comments today. Especially Dr. Percy’s – he spoke with such confidence, knowledge, and ease. As you can imagine, I found John Hokanson’s dig at youth rather annoying. And I had no idea that Alberta’s aerospace industry was a billion dollar business. A quick Google search turned up this article (PDF):

The aviation and aerospace industry is comprised of firms that make aircraft and aircraft parts, perform aircraft maintenance, offer aircraft-related services and invent new technologies. The industry generates $1.3 billion in annual revenue, is home to 5,000 jobs exclusive of the airlines and airports, and exports 40 per cent of its products and services.

Fascinating! Apparently Canada’s aviation and aerospace industry is the fourth largest in the world, generating more than $22 billion in annual revenue.

EEDC's 2010 Economic OutlookEEDC's 2010 Economic Outlook

I thought the panelists sounded relatively optimistic, and though there are definitely challenges ahead, Edmonton and Alberta seem well-positioned to emerge from the recession to start experiencing growth once more.

One other thing I wanted to mention was the Edmonton Journal advertisement that everyone received. It was a small cardboard box advertising that the Journal is “Mobile Ready!” on both the iPhone and BlackBerry. Inside was a card with instructions on adding a shortcut for a variety of devices, as well as a small “EJ” screen cleaner. I think pushing mobile right now is a smart move, and I thought the advertisement was very well done.

Thanks to Jenifer Christenson for inviting me out today!

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