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Communities concerned about 'business cannibalism'
Some of Calgary's neighbours say they’re worried that the city’s Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund will mean missed opportunities for the rest of the province.
The fund is designed to attract more businesses to Calgary, specifically from the technology sector. The goal is to create more jobs and populate vacant office space.
“We want to work with Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton to make sure we are growing the economy, not cannibalizing business from each other,” said Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman.
So far, the city has given more than $22 million to six different companies as an incentive to set up shop in the city.
“Our goal is growth, and these really are investments in the future,” said Calgary Major Naheed Nenshi. “And frankly when Calgary benefits, Lethbridge benefits and vice versa.”
Some business people in other regions accuse Calgary of poaching companies from smaller cities, citing Parkland Fuel moving its Red Deer office to Calgary, benefitting from the Opportunity Investment Fund in the process.
However, the city says Parkland was originally based in Calgary anyway and this was a method of streamlining operations as it adapted new technology into its operations.
Mary Moran, who heads Calgary Economic Development, says they aren’t targeting smaller cities.
“We try to be as respectful as we can of other jurisdictions but at the end of the day, a company is going to make decisions. Our interest is not about poaching other jurisdictions, sometimes it does happen, as it happens to Calgary, but that’s not our mandate, we are looking at global companies from around the world.”
The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund still has nearly $80 million left to be distributed to businesses moving to the city.
The next recipient is expected to be announced within a few weeks.