The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is ready to get business booming once again in southern Alberta.
Premier Jason Kenney echoed that statement at a chamber-sponsored luncheon Wednesday.
“We’ve been through several years of economic decline and stagnation. We now see that turning around dramatically,” said Kenney.
Chamber CEO Cyndi Vos said having the premier and Finance Minister Travis Toews in Lethbridge for a face-to-face meeting is a good sign for the local economy.
“I think it’s encouraging to see the engagement in southern Alberta. I think it’s encouraging for him to be so knowledgeable about what we need and what we want and that we are ready, that business is ready to go,” Vos said.
Much emphasis was put on the successes of the area’s agriculture sector.
“Lethbridge and region have been one of the stronger parts of Alberta’s economy in recent years. I think with a lot of new investment in the agriculture and agri-food businesses, you are going to see that growth continue,” added Kenney.
Toews said the stability of the sector in southern Alberta is a key component of Alberta’s economy.
“Lethbridge has a really stable economy relative to other parts of the province. Of course, agriculture plays such a great role and recognizing that we are in a very significant drought, and of course, that is creating some concerns in agriculture. Overall, the agriculture industry is in good shape,” Toews said.
NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips responded to comments made by the premier at the event. She said the UCP has done little to prepare Alberta to rebuild its economy.
“In a place like Lethbridge, what you are seeing is — as post-secondary is cut, as agriculture researchers are cut and other agriculture programs are cut, what happens is that’s less money circulating in the economy to be spent in our local businesses,” Phillips said.
Both the minister and the premier said focusing on economic recovery and growth is quickly becoming the province’s number one priority.