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Calgary boosts economic development fund


Calgary, AB — Calgary City Council increased its Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) to $100 million to enhance the effectiveness of this vital tool. The EDIF will be used to attract and retain companies, and support “catalytic” investments in the Calgary economy.

The EDIF will support the overall efforts by Calgary Economic Development to market the city’s workforce, business advantages and quality of life, to spur economic growth, investment attraction and retention of businesses and jobs.

“Tied very closely to agribusiness is Calgary’s strength as a transportation and logistics hub,” said Bruce Leslie, Calgary Economic Development’s new VP of Trade and Investment Attraction in an interview last week before the council decision. “Calgary is where it is today because of the transcontinental rail link; we have been a transportation hub from day one. Only today it’s by rail, road and air, or its digital data moving through our economy, and we have done a great job at building the infrastructure to help that part of our economy grow.”

The economy is a top priority for Calgarians and the challenges brought by an evolving energy sector require bold thinking. The EDIF will support strategic investments that act as a catalyst to spur growth, employment and increases to municipal taxes.

Municipal governments in most large cities in Canada and the United States use similar reserve funds as a fiscal tool.

At its session Monday, Council added $90 million to the $10 million approved when it created the EDIF in June. Work on the governance to oversee use of the funds is underway and will be presented to City Council in the first quarter of 2018.

No proposals will be processed until the governance protocols are in place.

There is intense competition among jurisdictions worldwide to attract investment and job creation. Calgary is recognized as being among the most frugal when working with companies to facilitate their locating investments here.

“To some degree, every city in North America faces similar challenges to those we face. The competition for brains, vision and capital is fierce,” wrote Jim Gray, a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Chair of the EDIF Steering Committee, in an op-ed for the Calgary Herald. “We must have both the intellectual and fiscal tools to compete with other cities that have dedicated the resources necessary to be a serious player in attracting investment while retaining our own industries and major employers.”

Calgary city council added $90 million to the $10 million approved when it created the EDIF in June.

Increasingly, major corporate investments are partnerships and, at times, the municipality must be able to bring something to the table that will close deals to bring significant benefits to Calgary.

Projects that could potentially be supported under the EDIF can be located anywhere in the city and may include targeted infrastructure, strategic relocation of industrial land, investments in technology, job training, brownfield redevelopment, innovation clusters/zones and optimization of vacant space.

The EDIF is not intended to be used to support the financial viability of a private company. No loans to businesses are permitted under the program and funds can not be used for tax relief, loans, marketing or public relations.

The goals for EDIF are to support 3,600 new jobs, $238 million in leveraged funds, $300 million in GDP and $300 million in potential incremental investment.

Calgary Economic Development will serve as the intake organization for ideas. Potential investment opportunities will be reviewed by Calgary Economic Development, relevant government and private sector experts as well as third-party assessments where appropriate.

 


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