Positive economic outlook drives Regina tech startups

WATCH: Local tech entrepreneurs are encouraged by Economic Development Regina's optimistic outlook for 2019.

Regina business leaders are optimistic about the economic environment for 2019, according to Economic Development Regina’s quarterly report of the Regina Executive Leadership Outlook (RELO).

The majority of respondents are predicting the same, if not higher employment rates, sales revenue and profitability. Regina’s real GDP is expected to rise by 2.2 per cent, a higher increase from 2018’s 1.8 per cent.

Economic Development Regina says the economy hasn’t fully recovered, but the optimism points to the end of the downturn. A sentiment echoed by John Hopkins, Regina and District Chamber of Commerce CEO.

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“We hope that we’ve seen the worst in terms of commodity cycles here in Saskatchewan, at least for this cycle, and we hope to see some upward mobility,” Hopkins said. “Last year we had the trade war with the U.S. in terms of trying to get a trade deal done. There are still some challenges there now, but I hope we’re over the worst of it.”

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Good news for Jordan McFarlen and the team at Cultivator, an “incubator space” that offers mentorship, programming and access to capital funding for tech companies looking to expand at a rapid pace.

“The nice thing about high growth companies is that they’re creating large amounts of jobs, good jobs here in the economy in Saskatchewan,” said McFarlen, Cultivator’s business incubator manager. “We’d love to see those companies, as they scale, employ more people in Saskatchewan.”

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Conexus Credit Union launched Cultivator back in the fall as a way to address the challenges in Saskatchewan’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Those companies, historically, would have gone elsewhere to find either the talent or the capital to grow and now those things are happening right here,” said Conexus CEO Eric Dillon. “The jobs are staying here, the reinvestments are happening here.”

Currently, 11 established companies and 10 new startups are taking advantage of the space on Research Drive. McFarlen says in the short amount of time he’s seen companies grow their staff, revenue and sales, while acquiring capital funding.

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Dillon points to economic optimism and Cultivator’s entrepreneurial tools as reasons for the quick success.

“We didn’t always have access to the things that we needed to grow and support small and micro-sized businesses here in the province and I think that’s changed,” Dillon said. “It’s changed drastically in just the last 18 months or two years.”

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