Calgary Economic Development praises new report on tech sector perceptions of city

Click to play video: 'Calgary Economic Development points to tech sector for change in city’s perception'
Calgary Economic Development points to tech sector for change in city’s perception
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The Calgary Economic Development (CED) is praising a new report surveying business leaders and employees in the technology sector about their perceptions of the city.

Stone-Olafson, a local research firm, surveyed 1,875 business leaders and workers from Oct. 4 to Oct. 18, 2022, across 10 markets in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K: Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Austin, Houston and London.

According to a CED news release on Wednesday, key findings include 90 per cent of business leaders surveyed have a positive impression of Calgary, up one per cent from 2021.

Almost 74 per cent said Calgary is becoming a new hub for tech and innovation, according to the CED.

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About 76 per cent of business leaders and 51 per cent of workers said Calgary has a diverse economy, the CED said.

The CED added 75 per cent of business leaders said Calgary is better for doing business than other markets and 55 per cent of business leaders surveyed would consider moving or expanding to Calgary.

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QR Calgary and Global News have not seen the report in question. The CED said it is not planning on releasing the report to the public.

A spokesperson for Stone-Olafson denied QR Calgary’s requests to see the report.

“The numbers are up this year, which is fantastic,” said Brad Parry, president and chief executive officer of the CED.

“People are starting to believe that business leaders and talents see the opportunities here.”

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Parry said he is seeing a perception change from workers as well. More and more tech workers are interested in moving to Calgary, not just business leaders.

“When I first came here in late-2019 and early-2020, people were reluctant to move to Calgary because they were afraid there wouldn’t be a career path,” he said.

“We have been very intentional in changing the narrative by talking about the amazing work that’s being done, our city and the game-changing technologies that are being developed.”

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Mathew Stone, an associate at Stone-Olafson, said this is the first year the firm could see the impacts of outreach and rebranding efforts from the City of Calgary and the CED.

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“We have leaders who are much more familiar about Calgary and the talent here, but that also means they have a clear understanding of the diversity of options that are here,” Stone told Global News.

“There’s been a real solidification of knowledge points about Calgary and incremental growth.”

But the pollster said tech workers’ perceptions of Calgary is still lagging behind. Many still primarily view Calgary as an oil market but that perception is fading over time.

“Calgary’s getting more credit for things like a tech sector that’s sustaining real jobs or more career opportunities beyond the traditional oil sector,” Stone said.

Tessa Brown, senior recruitment consultant for Procom Consultants Group, said the tech sector is in a “down period” because of layoffs.

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However, the overall trajectory for the sector in Calgary is very positive.

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“I think if you look back at what it was like two years ago, how far we’ve grown since then is absolutely fantastic,” Brown told Global News.

“I think Calgary has become a really attractive tech hub because of relatively cheap cost of living, and it’s cheap to move for businesses.”

Brown said she is trying to recruit local Calgary talent before expanding her searches elsewhere.

She said a lot of start-ups are coming to Calgary because there are a lot of opportunities and investments.

“It’s short-term pain (with the layoffs) but we will have long-term gain and it will be looking really good,” Brown said.

“There are a number of aspects that make it attractive for both employers and skilled workers to come and live here.”

QR Calgary reached out to the Mayor Jyoti Gondek and the City of Calgary with requests for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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