February – Councillor Druh Farrell’s Report


Economic Development

In December, City Council approved $100 million for the Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF). The fund is intended to boost Calgary’s economy, diversify our industries, and help us emerge from the recession stronger and more resilient.

The Investment Fund will be used to leverage opportunities with businesses, the public sector, and other orders of government. It will support innovative partnerships, as well as invest in programs and infrastructure that will strengthen our economy. The $100 million investment from EDIF is conservatively projected to create 3,600 jobs, leverage $240 million in funds from partners, and provide over $300 million in GDP value.

The creation of the fund came as a key recommendation from the Downtown Economic Summit that I initiated last year. The Summit brought together industry and cultural leaders to create a long-term plan for the downtown economy. Until recently, the Centre City generated 40 per cent of Calgary’s non-residential tax revenue and 25 per cent of city-wide employment. With roughly a one third office vacancy rate, $7.5 billion in assessed value of downtown office space was wiped out. This caused a massive transfer of taxes to businesses outside the core. When the downtown struggles, the impacts are felt city-wide.

Jim Gray, a respected business leader and advisor to Calgary Economic Development, said it best, “It’s an enormously dangerous strategy to simply wait for the oil economy to recover.” Supporting businesses city-wide and improving our overall economy will rely heavily on bringing new industries to the downtown. Diversifying our downtown also means looking at ways to attract more residential and post-secondary institutions to our core.

We are competing internationally for emerging industries, and EDIF will help us attract the best and brightest to Calgary. These companies are looking for high-quality of life, arts and culture, urban living, walking and cycling infrastructure, and high-quality transit. EDIF and other City initiatives can help deliver these improvements, not just for those we are looking to attract, but for all Calgarians.

Nostalgia is not an economic strategy. Investing in resilience and diversification through the EDIF program will help us grow our economy and ultimately get Calgarians back to work.

To sign up for updates on key community and Ward 7 issues, please visit www.DruhFarrell.ca.