“We want to ensure we have a stable and sustainable economy while still maintaining our community’s good quality of life in the years ahead”
Airdrie’s new economic strategy is aimed at tapping into the city’s potential as the place to be for business and talent in Western Canada.
By 2028, the new strategy, which was launched in October, says Airdrie has the foundational pieces in place to shift the tax base by focusing on attracting new industries and growing existing businesses to support residents’ needs.
“It’s no secret that Airdrie is a fantastic community,” says Kent Rupert, Airdrie Economic Development team leader. “This strategy is about embracing what makes Airdrie great and building on our vast potential. We want to ensure we have a stable and sustainable economy while still maintaining our community’s good quality of life in the years ahead — that’s what this work is all about.”
The strategy, themed Tapping into Airdrie’s Potential, has three main objectives: making the city right for business by retaining and growing Airdrie businesses and attracting new investment; making Airdrie the place to be by drawing visitors, entrepreneurs and the best talent to the city; and highlighting the city as a connected community by capitalizing on Airdrie’s location and future technologies.
“This plan provides the opportunity to attract and support the best and brightest talent, entrepreneurs, businesses and visitors to Airdrie,” says Mayor Peter Brown. “Providing such opportunities for people to achieve their dreams is something we strive for every day.”
Rupert says Airdrie officials felt it was time to update the city’s economic strategy looking at the next rendition of how it moves economic development forward in the community. Consultations were held with businesses and citizens.
“We ended up looking at it not from an economic development perspective but from an economics perspective as well as a place-making perspective because nowadays a lot of people will move to where they want to live and then they’ll figure out their jobs or their career and their business – especially the Millennials,” he says.
“That’s sort of the fundamental. People want to live where they want to live and sometimes they’ll find their jobs afterward. We’ve done very well in Airdrie in growing residential and creating a place to be and also growing the commercial and industrial side. So we want to make sure we don’t sort of sit back. We want to make sure that people continue to want to move here even as we continue to grow.”
Rupert says the vision is to build on the strengths in place already in the city – its ‘small-town’ feel; its entrepreneurial ambition; and its superior location near the Queen Elizabeth II Highway and only minutes away from Calgary.
“We have to make sure we enhance community spaces and amenities. We’re a young community. So hosting more events. One of the things we continuously heard from both businesses and residents is what they love about Airdrie is the small-town feel,” he says. “And as we continue to grow, how do we maintain that small-town feel, and really it’s around gathering places, it’s around events, it’s bringing the community together so that they get to know their neighbours and they get to know each other in the business community.
“That leads into densifying and enlivening our downtown. We’re currently doing a downtown redevelopment strategy. We just hired a new tourism person. So we’re looking at tourism for Airdrie for the first time in many, many years.”
Airdrie has seen stunning population growth over the last few years and the economic strategy is the next step for the city as it continues its evolution.
“I think we can do two things. Ensuring that we continue to build our economy. So bringing in new technologies, new industrial, new commercial. But it’s also at the same time ensuring that we maintain the quality of life that people love about Airdrie,” says Rupert.
“I think the most exciting thing for us is that this is a corporate strategy. It’s not a departmental strategy. It’s a City of Airdrie corporate strategy and we will be relying on all our partners; whether it be council, whether it be community partners like the Chamber, Bow Valley College, the Airdrie AirPark and then also internally, different departments will be working on different strategies to make sure we get the outcomes that we need and it focuses us all in the same direction.”