Editor’s Note: This story incorrectly said the Ernst and Young study was a year long and has since been updated with the correct timeline.
City council will be asked Wednesday to approve a new economic development business model that moves from two to three main organizations.
In a recommendation based on a 10-week-long study by Ernst and Young, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation would concentrate on the tourism and convention business, Edmonton-Global — representing its Metro Edmonton municipal partners — would tackle business attraction, foreign direct investment and trade, and a third entity would focus on the innovation and tech sector.
That third entity would branch off to assist groups like TEC Edmonton, Health City, Startup Edmonton and Edmonton’s post secondary institutions.
“It’s about bringing together all of the people who are working in the innovation space and working together,” Councillor Sarah Hamilton said after the report was released on Tuesday.
She anticipates council will re-examine budgets for these agencies, although not during city budget deliberations which resume Wednesday morning.
“Tourism and conventions, I believe that’s a profitable business,” Hamilton said, referring to EEDC operating the Edmonton Convention Centre downtown and the Expo Centre on the Exhibition Lands. “But with foreign direct investment and trade being officially handed over to Edmonton-Global and innovation being broken out, I think it’s a good time to talk about what the budget for the entity would look like.”
Currently EEDC receives $20 million in tax-supported revenue from the city. Edmonton’s share in Edmonton-Global is $1.26 million.
“When you are revisiting a mandate, you’re revisiting the budget that goes with it,” Hamilton said.
In a statement, Derek Hudson, the CEO of EEDC, reiterated that he’s open to all potential options, and said there are a lot of implications to what Ernst and Young had to say.
“There are multiple agencies that would be affected by the recommendations; there are multiple shareholders, boards and stakeholders to engage.
“To put some of those implications into context, less than one quarter of EEDC’s funding comes from the City of Edmonton. The balance comes from revenues and expenses at two world-class venues, partnership agreements between EEDC and the University of Alberta, and funding agreements with industry partners and both the provincial and federal governments.”
“Many of the dollars provided by these partners are contingent upon EEDC matching their contributions.
“And for this investment, EEDC has delivered an $850-million increase to Edmonton’s GDP over the last four years alone.”
EEDC employs 1,400 full-time, part-time and program employees. They should not be worried about their jobs, Mayor Don Iveson said, stressing city council has not accepted the report’s recommendations.
“There is a significant restructuring proposal and while that will create some uncertainty for folks working in the different organizations, I want to reassure them that regardless of what happens, the work they do is really important to the city’s prosperity and the region’s prosperity and this is more about governance and structure than it is about any particular job or work function.”
Hudson said: “there are many considerations not addressed in Ernst & Young’s recommendations. There are many moving parts to this discussion and much more to consider than this single report.”
City council spent several hours in closed-door talks reviewing the report on Monday and will have more debate in public starting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.