My Experience at the Downtown Economic Summit

Last Thursday, four of us were invited to attend the Downtown Economic Summit in which over 160 engaged individuals discussed the future of Calgary. The night was both inspiring and invigorating as we heard from a diverse crowd with varying viewpoints on the issue. But we all had one thing in common: we care about Calgary and believe in this city.

Throughout the evening, we heard from Calgary Economic Development about their plan moving forward with the city. Being a University student, I was especially interested in the talent retention aspect of their plan and how this goal was going to be achieved. We talked about creating a culture in which innovation and creativity could thrive in our city, and even came up with an idea to encourage more inter-institution collaboration. The idea resonated with us because we think it could help break down the barriers between the institutions, and ideally open the door for new projects in our city.

We also heard from Tom Murphy, the former mayor of Pittsburgh, and he gave some anecdotal advice about revitalizing Calgary’s economy. Pittsburgh was hit with a devastating downturn, but they were able to turn their situation around by providing more funding for the arts and culture, attracting technology companies, and leveraging the educational institutes.  I think similar actions could benefit Calgary’s situation, but as it was mentioned, Calgary’s traditional culture makes for slow adaptation to change. I can’t remember who said it, but someone spoke up and said something along the lines of “maybe it just hasn’t gotten bad enough for people to realize we need a change.”

Overall, the experience was very exciting and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend the Downtown Economic Summit. I was overwhelmed by the recognition Vivacity received throughout the evening, and the public support of Vivacity was incredibility heartwarming. I am glad we as students, were given the opportunity to share our opinion on changes being made in the city. After all, if millennial “brain drain” is a problem in our city, who better to consult than millennials themselves. 

Written by Courtney Clarkson, Mount Royal University Student

Photo credit: davebloggs007