Derek Hudson is CEO of Edmonton Economic Development Corp.
What’s the vision, mission and purpose of Edmonton Economic Development Corp.?
Hudson: The purpose of Edmonton Economic Development (EEDC) is to build a prosperous and resilient Edmonton economy by best positioning our city to drive key elements of economic success.
EEDC is a unique model in Canada. We are a multi-divisional, multi-location, arms-length agency of the City of Edmonton, aligned through unified purpose, vision and values. The unique operating model is scalable, creating a platform for economic development initiatives that can be started, matured and exited as required.
At EEDC, we know economic development is a team sport and our five divisions work in unison on initiatives that generate $200 million in economic impact annually and build the brand and reputation of our city. We give the world more Edmonton through our operating units Enterprise Edmonton, Innovate Edmonton (Startup Edmonton, Edmonton Research Park, Make Something Edmonton, TEC Edmonton), Edmonton Tourism, Edmonton Convention Centre, and Edmonton EXPO Centre.
What are the future plans for the organization?
Hudson: Edmonton city council has approved a provisional expanded mandate for EEDC. This expansion in mandate gives us responsibility to provide economic development strategy advice to city council, in addition to our current economic development, tourism and venue responsibilities.
Given this expanded mandate, EEDC will be conducting comprehensive public engagement sessions in 2019. Throughout Edmonton’s history we have demonstrated, repeatedly, that we – the community – are the solution to the challenges that confront us. Waiting for outside help is not what we do. Taking responsibility, together, to face our challenges is the Edmonton way.
What’s your sense of Edmonton’s economy these days?
Hudson: While the collapse in oil prices have had a negative effect on our economy, Edmonton has started to take small steps towards building an economy that is adaptable and resilient to economic shocks. I strongly believe we’re a city on the rise.
Edmonton is ranked number one in North America in artificial intelligence research and is being seen by global organizations such as Google (DeepMind) as an ideal place to set up operations.
We continue to see growth in the visitor economy, attracting increased numbers of business and leisure travellers to Edmonton.
And we continue to be recognized as one of the world’s best 100 cities to live, coming in at number 66 this year.
How important and significant has the ICE District development been for Edmonton?
Hudson: The development of ICE District is an important contributor to downtown revitalization efforts. More than a sports and entertainment district, it has sparked new business investment for our economy and enhanced Edmonton’s brand and reputation.
For those who haven’t visited Edmonton in recent time, I highly encourage you to stay downtown and take in our world-class culinary scene, Art Gallery of Alberta, Royal Alberta Museum, river valley and so much more.
If you were talking to a business interested in moving to Edmonton, what’s your best sales pitch to convince them to do so?
Hudson: With a population of 1.3 million people in the metropolitan region and still growing, we’re one of Canada’s youngest and fastest growing cities. We’re a city of risk takers who are ready to tackle challenges ahead and solve problems.
With some of the best talent in Canada coming out of our educational institutions in fields like biotechnology, manufacturing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, we have the right people who are needed for businesses to compete on a global scale. Access to a young, motivated and skilled labour pool within the greater Edmonton region ensures industry has the skills it needs to be successful.
In fact, Edmonton was recently named the best city in Canada for youth to work in by the Youthful Cities Urban Work Index.
Come join us! Our unofficial credo is Take a Risk. It’s the most Edmonton thing you can do.
– Mario Toneguzzi for Edmonton’s Business