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Ask Ron - Answers from Tuesday

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  • Ask Ron - Answers from Tuesday

    I Medwards

    1. What is the future of EEDC in the new arena?

    EEDC is very supportive of initiatives that improve the downtown core – over the long term we think a more exciting and vibrant downtown is critical to Edmonton becoming truly recognized as an elite city. Up to this point we have not had any direct involvement in the planning and development. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do become more involved in the coming months when the concepts and proposals are fully realized.

    2. What goals does EEDC have for the next year and five years?

    We’re currently in the process of finalizing our long-term strategic plan and business plan for 2010 which focus on our vision of being recognized as one of the world’s leading midsized cities by 2030. These plans are designed to be an incremental step toward achieving this vision, through the creation of priorities and initiatives for EEDC to focus on, execute and measure over the next year. Our plan is going to EEDC’s Board of Directors for their approval in the next month and after that we can talk more publicly about it.

    3. What 3 changes would you make to downtown Edmonton, if you could have your way on anything?

    I would like to see the River Valley Alliance plan implemented; the plan for an entertainment district (including arena) or something similar which could be a real cornerstone to developing Edmonton as a city with a world-class downtown; and for the province’s plan for Capital Boulevard and development of the Alberta Legislative grounds to move forward.

    II ThomasH

    1. Is there any way to make the word ‘dream’ facing Jasper Avenue more accommodating to Jasper Avenue? Is it possible to install a small café, shop, etc. in front of the wall to mitigate the impact of the wall itself?

    The ‘dream’ facing wall was developed as an architectural feature and has allowed us to showcase art installations. The SCC invests in the Sculpture by Invitation Program which gets local art out of the studio and onto the streets. These are annual exhibits which recognize the creative artistic excellence in our city and celebrate sculpture in the urban environment for the benefit of Edmontonians and visitors. For pictures of the newest exhibit, Twisted Triptych, visit EEDC’s Facebook page.

    III Sabre

    1. In the last week or two, I’ve heard that we may be through the worst of the current global recession. I’m taking that with a grain(or box) of salt, because some economic indicators (eg. Monthly retail sales) suggest we aren’t on our way up… yet. In your opinion, what’s in store for our city’s economy in the next six, 12 or 18 months?

    There is no question that Edmonton’s economy is greatly influenced by the overall global economy, and over that we have no control. Most economic forecasts over the last few weeks have indicated that the recession in North America is now largely over (even though some sectors will clearly recover faster than others) and most are expecting the economy to begin growing again.

    Further recent statements show growth is occurring in Canada. The Royal Bank’s Forecast for September 2009 estimates that Alberta’s GDP shrunk by 2.8 per cent in 2009 and they expect the economy to grow by 3 per cent in 2010. The Conference Board of Canada’s fall forecast shows Edmonton’s economy shrunk by 1.9 per cent is 2009 and that growth will be 3.3 per cent in 2010 and 4.4 per cent in 2011.

    IV booster

    1. What are the future plans for the Edmonton Research Park in terms of expansion? Are there any success stories of companies that have outgrown the park?

    The plans are exciting - the park is very near full with two lots available for development and all others complete or under negotiation. There are discussions with the province for developing 90 acres of land. The Southlands would meet additional requirements over the next 10 – 20 years.

    A few recent success stories include:

    • Meta-Fleet - an Aircraft Structural Integrity Program, which tests stress levels of Hercules aircraft. Started at 3 employees and is now at 30. Meta Fleet is graduating this month and moving out of the park.
    • Head Count - a software developer that tracks traffic in stores. Started as a one man show in the ATC and has grown to 15 and moved into the RC1 building.
    • ShirWin - an educational software developer has graduated and moved out of the park. What started as a one person operation now has a staff of 10. They are a group of highly specialized programmers, artists, and instructional designers.

    2. What are your thoughts regarding North American Construction moving their executive (head) office to Calgary?

    We were disappointed; however, I have had a number of discussions over the last few months with Rod Ruston, President & CEO of North American Construction. The reality is that while the bulk of their operations are in Edmonton and Northern Alberta, the head offices of their major customers are in Calgary. Rod felt he had to be in Calgary for the best interests of his customers.

    3. We know the Airport has been working to attract new flights to Edmonton. Have any of the new flights encouraged companies to locate to or expand in Edmonton?

    It is very hard to make a direct link of a new flight service to a company expanding or a new company relocating. However, for many businesses a top priority is better air service.

    4. Is EEDC working to try to get VIA to increase train service to daily from its current every second day service?

    At this point we’re not aggressively pursuing increased train service – we’re not aware that there is sufficient demand for an increase. Edmonton Tourism works closely with VIA to promote the train service to Edmonton.

    5. What is the one item that the city requires to grow up, that is does not have and what is EEDC doing to get it?

    I’m not sure Edmonton has to grow up – I believe in many ways we compare favourably with modern cities around the world. We’ve got a lot to be proud of including our river valley, health care, arts and educational institutions. Priority improvements would include a more exciting downtown, improved public transportation, and an improved sense of security.

    V glasshead

    1. What is EEDC’s plan to both recruit and retain downtown businesses and head-offices in Edmonton, considering the rising office-lease availability in Calgary? There are indications that Calgary’s Economic Development entity is strongly recruiting financial and other institutions to their CBD.

    The number one development tool is a strong economy. No matter how reasonable leasing rates are they don’t offer the same value without a solid, diversified economy. Our efforts are centred around long-term growth and diversification focusing on six key sectors including advanced technology, education, energy, financial services, health and tourism. Normally, we don’t get involved with specific downtown developments – that is more the mandate of the Downtown Business Association and the City of Edmonton.