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IBM expanding Calgary facility, will create 250 new jobs

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IBM Canada will be opening a new client innovation centre in Calgary, and said its creation will generate 250 new jobs.

The new client innovation centre will service all of Western Canada and will be located in a portion of the 25,000 square-foot office IBM currently occupies in the Beltline.

"We will be renovating and reinvigorating that space to make it even more amazing to collaborate with our client and new employees that we're going to be hiring," said Laura Hartwell, vice president Western Canada for IBM.

Jobs created will be in artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud, 5G and security – including application developers, business and transformation analysts, testers and project managers.

The company said the centre will play an important role in contributing to Alberta's economic growth.

"It will accelerate innovation in sustainable practices and advance the position of Alberta as a hub for energy transformation," said Dave McCann, president of IBM Canada, in a Wednesday release.

Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek said the expansion of IBM in the downtown core is "yet another signal of confidence in our city's growing tech sector."

She later added, these investments are instrumental in achieving our goal of creating more than 1000 new tech companies in our city over the next decade."

The city contributed $5 million for the launch as part of its Opportunity Investment Fund. The province matched that amount as part of the "Jobs Now" program.

Premier Jason Kenney said IBM noticed the Alberta advantage, and is helping diversify the economy.

"(IBM has) been looking at the whole range of incentives, the tax structure, availability of incentives for skilled labour, the labour market situation, the training picture in the region," he said.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce said the announcement is validating for a city that has endured seven years of economic instability, as companies packed up downtown offices.

Chamber President and CEO Deb Yedlin said attracting deals like this requires strategic moves.

"Sometimes you have to spend money to attract businesses. That's what we need to do more often, I would argue, in Calgary and in Alberta," said Yedlin to CTV News on Wednesday.

She later added, "This is a game that is played everywhere. It's played around the world. And we need to be part of that game. This is table stakes."

According to a report from Calgary Economic Development and international data corporation (IDC) Canada, Alberta's spending on digital transformation is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2024, of which Calgary businesses will account for nearly $7.5 billion, which represents an average growth of 13 per cent across all industries.

IBM said internal recruiting is underway, with the jobs being added over the next five years.

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