Message from the CEO
In terms of the economic environment in Lethbridge one thing has become very clear – a reasonable level of industry diversification helps us avoid some of the uncertainty associated with the oil and gas industry in our beautiful province.
Based on a series of year- end economic indicators including GDP growth at 1.2% ($5 Billion), an average unemployment rate of 3.9% and nearly $1 billion in building permit construction value over the last five years, there are plenty of reasons to maintain a continued positive outlook for our city and region.
Like the city we serve, Economic Development Lethbridge is a stable, yet dynamic organization working to ensure Lethbridge is a place that people choose for years to come.
We are here to champion and celebrate the projects that improve our city, that ones that inspire a vibrant economy and those that require a visionary approach to effectively engage and enable citizens to thrive in the technology dependent landscape of the 21st century. We want to ensure Lethbridge is a great place to make a living – and make a life.
The introduction of new technology has always impacted commerce and culture and paved the way for innovative new systems. With ever-increasing global access, technology is also impacting the economic shape and viability of cities. In fact, 80% of economic growth comes from technology innovation. How do we ensure we remain relevant within this context? In partnership with the City of Lethbridge we have placed priority on engaging the community to do just that. By using the Intelligent Community framework as a catalyst for discussion, planning and action, we hope to create a ground swell of vision-driven, community-based technology solutions to ensure we remain a community that can support technology-dependent business and engaged citizens.
We also continue to work on business development, attraction and growth in wealth-generating industries with a focus on the knowledge workforce. These efforts are enhanced by the ability to leverage tecconnect, a business incubator for emerging tech start-ups owned and operated by EDL since 2011. At the end of 2014 we were happy to report that 74 jobs have been created through tecconnect and that nearly 60% of these are local post-secondary graduates. This is significant since studies have shown that for each job created in the high-tech sector, approximately 4.3 jobs are created in other local goods and services sectors. There is tremendous opportunity to focus on continued diversification by balancing the cutting edge opportunities that tecconnect clients represent while building on our traditional core industries like Agriculture and Manufacturing as well as anchors like Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge.
This year, we are also working with our meeting, event and tourism partners to develop a robust and integrated Destination Management Plan to effectively attract and engage visitors to the city. By conducting an asset inventory, identifying strategic opportunities and defining the roles of lead stakeholders, we will have a broad-based perspective on ways in which to effectively and efficiently capitalize on opportunities for future industry growth.
We are passionate about our role in shaping and sharing Lethbridge’s story and we are proud to be part of its innovative future.
Chief Executive Officer
Economic Development Lethbridge