The Urge to Compete

Every morning for almost six years I woke up with a single purpose in mind – to make Edmonton remarkable. We rallied the business community around opportunities to attract major events like Red Bull Crashed Ice or industry leaders like Aurora Cannabis and Hello Fresh. We also rallied the business community when our city was under threat from reckless cuts to post-secondary funding, vindictive elimination of direct flights, and policy changes that crippled our economy.

I loved the chase and I loved the fight. And my love for our city is forever in my heart.

Today, as we all witness the brutal combination of an energy price war, a COVID-19 economic collapse, and a global liquidity crisis, my urge to compete has never been greater. This recent threat to our economy and livelihood has exposed the fragility of our economy, our capital markets, our supply chains, and our manufacturing capacity. Although the response has largely been targeted at social distancing policies, income and wage supports, and PPE procurement, our national response will eventually start to focus on our points of fragility.

And we, as a city, need to be ready … ready to invest in transition.

As people are eventually allowed to return to work, the first wave of government stimulus will be on infrastructure and construction projects. This is predictable and Edmonton will benefit greatly from this first wave of stimulus spending.

It’s the second wave that is much more important and requires our city to think strategically, collaboratively, and well … differently.

As the federal government launches incentive programs to build manufacturing capacity for essential products, Edmonton should be ready to position itself as western Canada’s advanced manufacturing hub. Edmonton has an integral foundation of traditional manufacturing capacity, talent & trades, education & training institutions, and a competitive tax environment. Layer on our leadership in artificial intelligence, machine learning, nano-materials, and robotics … plus our jurisdictional advantage as the transportation, logistics, and service centre for western Canada’s primary industries … and what you have is a winning combination that cannot be ignored.

Our organization, BGE Indoor Air Quality Solutions, is western Canada’s largest manufacturer/distributor of air filtration products – essential products and services regardless of economic and pandemic conditions. However, we rely on imported raw materials and products that could be made locally, as part of an advanced supply chain and manufacturing cluster deemed critical to our economic future.

We are one of many manufacturers that should be rallying together at this time, to share our opportunities and needs, and collectively position Edmonton for that second wave of economic incentive – the one that builds essential manufacturing capacity, localized supply chains, and thousands of well-paying jobs for generations to come.

It’s time to rally.  It’s time to be remarkable.