Edmonton aims to innovate to diversify economy after COVID-19

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The City of Edmonton will create a new authority to help diversify the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, city council agreed at a meeting on Monday.

The Council unanimously approved the initiative called an innovation entity – which is estimated to cost $ 5 million a year.

The project began several months ago after the board voted to reduce the role of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

But Mayor Don Iveson said change is now more relevant than ever, and in a post-COVID world 19, innovation and diversification will be essential to building a more resilient economy.

The collaboration will be led by a board of directors and a CEO. The board of directors will be chosen next week, the board said.

Edmonton Global, a regional group of 15 municipalities, will be responsible for expanding foreign investment and trade.

The City of Edmonton will be the commercial wing responsible for creating a strategy, including branding the city for investors.

The Alberta Industrial Heartland Association will work to develop downstream energy processing and attract foreign investment in processing hydrocarbons.

Tourism and convention activities will remain in the hands of the EEDC, as will the role change advice agreed in December.

The city is reallocating about $ 11 million from the EEDC to be used for all of the innovation.

Coun. Sarah Hamilton, a voice critic for the old EEDC, said the new innovation model is looking to the future.

“Any job in the next 20 years and probably beyond that is going to have something to do with technology and innovation,” said Hamilton.

This includes oil and gas and areas like health sciences and agriculture, she said.

“There will not be an industry that is not affected by this, and by investing in innovation now, we are ensuring that the children who grow up today will have a reason to stay in Edmonton. “

Coun. Michael Walters supported the decision to diversify the economy so that the city and surrounding municipalities do not fall back on the oil and gas industry, given record oil prices.

“I know this is a song that politicians sing – a sad song that we have been singing for generations in this province. Walters said. “But if we can make a significant contribution to real diversification through this work, it would be a great victory for my children, you know. I want them to stay in Edmonton. “

The city will recruit an expert council, which will then hire a CEO to head the innovation entity.

As part of the new scenario, Edmonton Tourism will resume the K-Days and Farm Fair organized in the field around the EXPO Center.

Iveson said he did not know how it would affect Northlands, the organization that normally handles the two events.

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