Kent Rupert

Now is the time for innovation

Last year saw several changes to the Canadian and Albertan landscapes. With new political leadership, continually decreasing oil prices, and a plummeting Canadian dollar, not to mention a spike in unemployment rates and a substantial increase in user numbers at food banks and within other social programming, it is easy to see that Alberta is in a bit of a funk.

We continue to hear about job losses, downsizing companies, closures – and it is expected that 2016 will be just as challenging. With no clear timeline on when this downturn might end, this is an opportune time to look at ways we can do things differently. Whether through our business practices or our consumer habits and household practices, we can find creative ways to reduce costs.

This is also the time to begin exploring innovative practices and technologies, as well as diversification opportunities. With the slowdown, industries can focus on researching and developing cost-effective practices that will allow them to be less affected by unstable global oil prices into the future. Investment in alternative energies, creative and green industries and other non-traditional industries may result in a more diversified, stable overall economy.

“While we are currently in a fragile time in Alberta history, we have to recognize the many opportunities that are, or can be, spurred from this downturn”

Although many businesses are suffering due to the economy, there are some aspects of the economy that have seen encouraging change and growth. As of October 2015, Albertan business bankruptcies had decreased by 50 per cent year-over-year. Alberta has also seen a half per cent year-over-year growth in new business incorporations and the province has also seen positive growth in select industries.

Alberta saw a 10.3 per cent increase in farm cash receipts year-over-year, suggesting encouraging revenues in the agriculture industry. Alberta and the Calgary region can also expect significant increases in the tourism industry due in part to the low Canadian dollar. Hovering around 70 cents, the dollar value is attractive to incoming international visitors.

While we are currently in a fragile time in Alberta history, we have to recognize the many opportunities that are, or can be, spurred from this downturn. This might be the time to start your own business, register for training in a skill that you have always wanted to learn or change career paths entirely. In 2015 more than 350 entrepreneurs started up new ventures in Airdrie. With so many resources and training opportunities available for local entrepreneurs, the sky is the limit!

Over the next year, Airdrie Economic Development will continue to talk to the local business community to gauge the effects of the current economic climate on their ability to do business, and to get a sense of their needs and challenges. We will continue to explore opportunities for new and existing businesses and entrepreneurs that will assist in growing their markets. We know Airdrie is a great place to do business and we want to keep it that way.

In the end, it will take a combination of diversification, working together, supporting our local businesses and taking advantage of growing industries to get us through the current market conditions. We look forward to seeing the opportunities come to life in Airdrie.

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