Calgary city council will be asked to create a $10-million economic development investment fund (EDIF) when it meets on Monday.
Numbers from Statistics Canada show that since August of 2015, nearly 53,000 jobs have been lost in the Calgary region.
An economic development investment fund has been used in many other North American cities as a way of dealing with an economic downturn and creating diversification.
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In a report going to city council, the goals of the EDIF include, but are not limited to:
Help create the right conditions for growth in the local economy, through efforts to strengthen industries and create new onesDiversify the local economyLeverage municipal funds for additional private and public sector investments into the communityCreate employment lands and stimulate employmentCreate a return on investment (both direct and indirect)
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Councillor Richard Pootmans, whose background before going into politics was in economic development, welcomes the fund.
“If we’re not making investments in our community, why should anyone else? And right now, we are seeking talent and investment for our community,” he said.
“We estimate we are competing with approximately 1,000 other jurisdictions on the planet, for high quality jobs and investment in our city.”
Of the $10 million, 20 per cent of it is earmarked for Calgary’s so-called 10 cornerstone arts organizations, which include Theatre Calgary, The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
Pootmans said Thursday he is keeping an open mind.
“The arts are one of the factors that people consider when they’re coming here. I remember when I was at Calgary Economic Development, I would routinely [be approached by] people travelling from afar, wondering where they could go to an art gallery,” he said.
“People are interested in the quality of life they are going to have if they come here.”
City administrators said the arts organizations support the city’s high quality of life, vibrant downtown and diversified economy and in 2015 accounted for $49 million in direct economic activity.