In the past 4 years, I’ve traveled across Canada, from Victoria and Vancouver to Halifax and Cape Breton, with stops in between, testing entrepreneurial markets and environments for what would seem to be ‘the best’ location to locate a Canadian branch of my Virginia-based trade promotion company. I’ve found truly great people everywhere, but frankly, after my first phone conversation with Calgary Economic Development nearly 2 years ago, I realized that Calgary and Alberta had something different and more energetic going on.
Alberta is different from the other provinces because “Alberta” is an action verb.
Our US company’s extra-provincial registration is now in place in Alberta and so I know what continues to attract me so strongly to Calgary and what makes this city and province an ideal location: Alberta is an action verb, because people here do things all the time. And they do all kinds of things. It’s not just oil and gas. Its economy is diversifying quickly, which opens up a lot of opportunities for us to promote Albertan exports. And I think my perception is supported by TD Economics’ latest study showing Calgary as a top destination for Canadians moving from other provinces.
Alberta’s small business owners whom I have met understand decisive action, independent thinking, self-funded startups, collaboration in groups, networking and revenue-based growth. Sure, they may be looking for venture capital, but none whom I have met are sitting around just waiting for it. Alberta’s entrepreneurs take action.
My colleagues and I also found this “can do” energy when talking with the Government of Alberta in Edmonton. The government staff I have met do “get it” and see value in small business and export. I find that timely email replies from Alberta’s government staff is a routine experience. That’s a good sign for those who want to do business with Alberta—they pay attention.
For nearly two years, I have seen this action-verb mentality in practice here in Alberta. Each of the contacts I have made, from CED, to the various registries who helped me understand the business registration process, to the University of Calgary, Calgary Technologies and the Alastair Ross Technology Centre, the Alberta Council of Technologies, and dozens of businessmen and women in Calgary, Canmore, Red Deer and Edmonton – all of these business development contacts have been action oriented. Their general action-verb approach has always been, “What else can we do today to help make this a success?”
Maybe Toronto is larger, and yes, Vancouver has its own active venture capital environment. But Calgary’s got more annual sunshine. Maybe that’s it.
Whatever the reason, I think it’s more than fair to say that Alberta is different (and better!) because Alberta acts like an action verb. One of our actions in return is to make sure that this becomes better known in the States.
Ernest Troth is the President of North Loudoun Corporation, based in Virginia and with a new foothold in Calgary. North Loudoun promotes US-Canadian bilateral trade, with a focus on the green-technology sector. His comparison of Alberta with other locations includes on-site assessments of not only Canadian cities, but also on site evaluation of several in Europe. “Ernie” can be reached by email at
, or phone (403-260-5245).