Edmonton to have clearer picture of how tech sector is handled by year’s end

Towers in downtown Edmonton, near 104 Avenue and 101 Street on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. Emily Mertz, Global News

By the end of the year, Edmontonians should have a better understanding of how the city’s tech sector is handled.

City councillors have asked for a report that will detail the relationship between Edmonton Global, which represents the metro region, and the long-standing Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC).

The report will also detail what each organization is responsible for. The head of EEDC admits his agency will have a different look, but he’s OK with that.

“My intention is not to keep the organization as it is. It’s important for this organization to evolve, to continue to add the most value it can to the city’s economy,” Derek Hudson said.

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“I’m not feeling threatened about this organization being pulled apart because the purpose of the organization is to add value.”

EEDC and Edmonton Global have been working together since the summer, trying to figure out the best way to promote Edmonton to international investors.

Hudson said EEDC and Edmonton Global are doing the strategic planning at this point, so when that work is complete, the two sides will know how to re-set their organizations.

“What we’re talking about is a strategy for the city, for the city’s economy that we’re going to release this fall working with city council. And then that, as I allude to, will change the nature of EEDC,” Hudson.

Mayor Don Iveson said while EEDC will change, it will not hand over oversight of the tech industry to Edmonton Global.

“No. No, that could be a conversation in five or 10 years about whether we should regionalize the technology question. But so far, brand promotion and overall investment attraction and trade are the things that we’ve asked Edmonton Global to focus on,” Iveson said.

“The innovation and technology piece, we’re going to keep close, whether it will stay directly under EEDC or whether it will spin out into a more arm’s-length organization, is one of the things we’re going to study in the coming months.”

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EEDC receives $20 million from the city for its operations, and Iveson anticipates that will stay the same.

The city auditor will also weigh in by the end of the year, to ensure taxpayer dollars are not being wasted.

With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED.

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