Recap: EEDC’s 2012 Economic Outlook Luncheon

EEDCOn November 15, EEDC held its annual Economic Outlook luncheon at the Shaw Conference Centre. Hundreds of Edmontonians filled Hall D on Tuesday to hear from a panel of senior leaders moderated by Dr. Mike Percy, the former Chamber of Commerce president and until this year Dean of the School of Business at the University of Alberta.

This year’s panelists included:

  • Dr. Jodi Abbott, President & CEO, Norquest College
  • Diane Brickner, President & CEO, Peace Hills Insurance Company
  • Pierre Gratton, President & CEO, Mining Association of Canada
  • Ron Liepert, Minister of Finance, Government of Alberta
  • Paul Verhesen, President, Clark Builders

The five panelists each shared their thoughts on the local economy before fielding questions from the audience. Here are a few of the more memorable statements the panelists made:

  • “We are very, very lucky to live where we do.” – Paul Verhesen
  • “Productivity and innovation are down as a result of not having to compete with others.” – Paul Verhesen
  • “I’m not sure there’s a better place than Alberta in the world to do business.” – Ron Liepert
  • “We do not have the population base to meet the expected labour-market demand.” – Dr. Jodi Abbott, indicating Alberta would have 77,00 unfilled jobs by the end of the decade.
  • “Mining is back.” – Pierre Gratton
  • “That will go.” – Ron Liepert, indicating the Royal Alberta Museum would in fact move ahead.

For more, check out the Edmonton Journal’s Storify of the event.

At the luncheon in 2009, I learned that Alberta’s aerospace industry is a billion dollar business. This year I learned a little more about the mining industry in our province. The Canadian Mining Journal summed it up well:

Canada’s mining industry will invest as much as $140 billion in this country over the next five years, and almost 50% of it will be in Alberta. The province will grow thanks to 12 mining projects proposed for development by 2016 with combined costs of $67.7 billion.

The $67.7 billion will be invested primarily in the oil, gas and oil sands development that Alberta is most known for, however significant investment is also anticipated in coal, limestone, salt, shale, dimension stone, ammonite shell, sandstone and sand and gravel.

Apparently Alberta accounts for 70% of Canada’s coal production (by weight) and is home to more than 540 mining industry suppliers.

Here is the Edmonton Journal’s story about the luncheon. Here is the Edmonton Sun’s take. And here is Avenue Edmonton’s article.

The Bridge

I thought EEDC did a great job with the event. The luncheon was livestreamed by the Edmonton Journal, and though they ran into some issues with the sound, it did appear to get more Edmontonians involved than usual. EEDC smartly chose a hashtag ahead of time, and made it clear to everyone that they should use #outlook12. They also displayed the tweets up on the big screen, and although it consistently ran behind, I thought it was a useful addition to the event. I expect both will get better in future years!

As enjoyable as the luncheon was, I found myself wishing there had been a handout or better yet, a QR code to scan that would take me to more information. I thought the panelists were great, but I can’t say I left with a strong sense of how Edmonton’s economy is expected to do in 2012. Fortunately, there is a bit of information online if you look for it.

Here is Cushman & Wakefield’s prognosis:

Overall vacancy is expected to increase in 2012 as a result of the market dynamics caused by recently completed Epcor Tower in the downtown core. Regardless, confidence in Edmonton’s economy is strong, despite continuing global economic uncertainty.

Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicts 18% more housing units will be constructed across the province in 2012 than were built this year.

Edmonton will likely have 3,750 construction starts of multi-family housing this year, down less than four per cent from a year ago, says CMHC.

And from the City of Edmonton’s long-term economic outlook:

Few economies have prospects as bright as northern Alberta, at the geographic core of Canada’s economic future. As the research and industrial workhorse of the province, Edmonton stands tall as one of Canada’s most dynamic and prosperous urban centres.

The Economics Society of Northern Alberta is holding its 2012 Outlook Conference all day tomorrow at the Sutton Place Hotel, so watch for more news to come out of that event.

What else have you come across related to our economy in 2012?

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