With the region and the province so dependent on the oil and gas business it may be another few years until Albertans see the province rise back to the same level of health it was before the recession stated a local expert.
Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Association’s executive director (EDA) Barbara Engelbart McKenzie spoke to the status of the economy at a Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon March 4.
“Our region has grown up on oil and gas. We have seen its ups and its downs, and this is certainly a down,” said Engelbart McKenzie.
Over the last 18 months the EDA has been gathering data from articles and presentations for the region and what has been found is economists do not know what is going to happen, says Engelbart McKenzie.
“We all need to learn to adapt,” said Engelbart McKenzie.
There is a 7.2 per cent unemployment rate in Alberta and in the past 18 months 100,000 energy related jobs have been lost.
Just in the region 750 manufacturing jobs have been lost and Engelbart McKenzie says that number does not take into account jobs directly and indirectly affected through the ripple effect.
In the Leduc-Nisku region, over the past 18 months, 300 businesses of all sizes have left buildings empty in search of more prosperous locations, downsized or closed completely.
With oil prices expected to rise slowly over the next three years Engelbart McKenzie says the region will be existing in a “lower for longer economy” longer than previously expected.
“Capital investments is being halted and construction expansion projects will decrease,” said Engelbart McKenzie.
A major way to combat the low economy and its debilitating effects is export markets, says Engelbart McKenzie. She explains there is room as well as a demand in global markets for Alberta companies. “We hear again and again technology and innovation is key.”