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County economic outlook optimistic

There is cause for optimism when it comes to Rocky View County’s (RVC) current economic situation, according to Economic Development Manager David Kalinchuk.
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The 2017 announcement of Amazon’s fulfillment centre in Balzac – since constructed – was one positive indicator of Rocky View County’s economic situation.

There is cause for optimism when it comes to Rocky View County’s (RVC) current economic situation, according to Economic Development Manager David Kalinchuk.

“As of the end of 2017, all economic indicators are indicating positive, balanced growth in the County,” he said during a presentation at a regular council meeting Oct. 23.

RVC’s Economic Development department measures success within the County by looking at prospective investments or developments, and through existing tax-base analysis, Kalinchuk said.

“RVC continues to work extremely hard [at] increasing the total non-residential tax base,” he said. “While the residential tax base continues to grow, the non-residential tax base continues to outpace all other categories, including farmland, machinery and equipment, and linear assessment.”

A number of significant companies – including Amazon, Sobeys, Whirlpool, Days Inn and Harmony Beef – announced investment or development in RVC in 2017, Kalinchuk said. The County’s non-residential tax base has grown from approximately $3.5 billion in 2012 to more than $5 billion in 2017, he added.

Kalinchuk's presentation also highlighted economic trends, a regional assessment and significant developments in RVC leading up to 2018.

Those trends continue to impact the County this year, he said – trends like improving oil prices, a continued lower Canadian dollar, increased competition with RVC’s urban neighbours, slowing retail spending in the Calgary region and the provincial government striving to diversify and stabilize the economy.

He also outlined a number of new trends to watch this year. According to Kalinchuk, credit bubbles – particularly household debt and corporate debt – are a notable risk.

“Global debt continues to concern many economists and central bankers around the world,” he said.

As it has in the past, Kalinchuk said, the County should position itself as an “island of stability amidst an ocean of economic uncertainty” – attracting investment and creating jobs in the process – by exercising prudent and wise fiscal restraint, maintaining low tax rates and no business tax.

Kalinchuk also recommended RVC take advantage of consumers’ increased desire for high-quality, local products. As Canada engaged in trade wars with the United States over steel and aluminum tariffs, Kalinchuk said, a number of Canadians began appreciating and purchasing items made closer to home.

“Producers and food processors in RVC should capitalize on the burgeoning demand for local products,” he said.

The County could also capitalize on this trend, he added, by continuing to develop export markets for Alberta products through free-trade zone development, inland port promotion and foreign direct investment.

According to Kalinchuk, market trends indicate global consumption will move oil prices higher – which bodes well for the Calgary region, including RVC.

“New export market development for Alberta’s oil and natural gas products will help reduce the discount on Western Canadian Select oil,” he said. “This would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of new-found income for Alberta producers, and much needed market diversification.”

Reeve Greg Boehlke said Kalinchuk’s presentation was encouraging, considering recent economic hardships in Alberta and the rest of the country.

“You’ve solidified for us…the efforts that we’ve put forward,” said Reeve Greg Boehlke. “This didn’t happen by accident. This was a plan a few years ago that is starting to come to fruition.”

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