May 27th, 2020

Business Beat: What does it really take to create economic growth?

By Sandra Blyth on February 26, 2020.

Economies are complex and the responsibility for economic growth is often largely placed on governments. But the truth is there are many players who impact whether an economy will grow. For example our educational institutions must produce the skills and talent necessary to fill jobs needed for industry to produce goods and services. Research facilities must engage STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) talent to innovate new products and tools to ensure the economy offers a competitive edge. Financial firms and angel investors must offer a healthy level of risk tolerance to provide the necessary capital to support new entrepreneurs and expanding businesses. Health and social service agencies must provide a host of essential services to the community ensuring a good quality of life can be realized. And of course, business and industry is the most important player in a growth economy. Without business there is no economy which makes it the most important voice of all.

Business and industry must continuously gauge changing markets and meet rising or declining demands. They must identify cost-efficiencies and determine when implementing new technologies or adapting product lines is a necessary cost for continued growth. They must source new and innovative ways to stay competitive against strong global competition. As a result, business is the reason we are here and understanding what business requires to be competitive and serving those needs is the most important role each of us plays in creating a growth economy.

This will be the first columns of a six-part series where I will unpack what it takes to create a growth economy. Within the series I may reference previous columns or blogs to provide more context such as the December 2019 piece on “Next Generation Economic Development.” To find previous columns visit investmedicinehat.ca/stories/

Within this series I will discuss three key areas essential to a growth economy:

1) Advantageous Eco-system – the foundation of an economy comprises an eco-system of eight economic inputs (human capital, financial capital, research and innovation, infrastructure, governance, property, marketing and quality of life).

2) Robust Economic Engines – engines drive an economy through a set of related industries, suppliers, and supporting eco-system institutions that export out of the region.

3) Economic Outcomes – measuring the overall performance of an economy.

Successful economic regions share a common approach that is bottom-up, market-driven, and collaborative in their planning and implementation. Strategies (Business Retention, Expansion and Workforce Development BREWD) and efforts are underway to begin implementing a planning and action system that will identify challenges and opportunities, set priorities and implement action plans to grow the overall competitiveness of our city and region.

In March, we will begin to unpack what an Advantageous Eco-system is and the eight economic input foundations comprising it. Until then please visit investsoutheastalberta.ca to learn more about the BREWD strategies currently underway and investmedicinehat.ca for reference articles and blogs.

Sandra Blyth is director of economic development at Invest Medicine Hat.

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