According to the Conference Board of Canada’s Provincial Outlook for Winter 2005: “Continued high oil prices, numerous multi-billion dollar expansion projects in the oil sands and robust domestic demand” will continue to fuel the province’s economy.

The oil and gas sectors are key. Under anticipated economic conditions and using current technology, Alberta has about 176.1 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. Innovation in drilling and extraction methods, recovery technology and sour gas exploitation is fuelling growth.

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But Alberta’s assets are more than oil and gas. A biotech sector is thriving, and agri-food processing businesses are creating and marketing a vast array of innovative products. Other thriving sectors are resource development and environmental management, and the aerospace industry.

Per capita investment of $13,368 is more than double the Canadian average. From 1993 to 2003, Alberta’s 3.7% economic growth rate was higher than Canada’s average annual increase. All recent forecasts rank Alberta in the top three in both 2004 and 2005.

The Fraser Institute recognises Alberta’s workforce as the most productive in Canada and the eighth most productive in North America.

In 2005, Alberta is forecast to have the fastest growing economy in Canada with real GDP growth of 3.8%. The economy is expected to rank a close second in 2006 with economic growth averaging 3%, slightly lower than that of Newfoundland & Labrador’s 3.1% growth rate.

CITY OF THE FUTURE: CALGARY, ALBERTA

Calgary’s GDP, estimated at $46.2bn in 2004, generates Canada’s highest GDP per capita, $74,873. The city, in the province of Alberta, is Canada’s fastest growing economy, with 19.7% total GDP growth between 1999 and 2003, higher than any other Canadian city, and is projected to lead the country in GDP growth each year to 2009.

In 2004, Calgary attracted several notable inward investments, including the decision by Imperial Oil, Canada’s largest energy company, to relocate its head office there. Other deals announced came from Centre Partners, an international call centre; Crown Packaging; Marcus Evans, an international business events firm; British Gas; and France’s Total.

Rents for all types of space are affordable. Workers, while well paid, are also highly educated. More than 61% of the population holds a university or college credential and 73% of Calgarians have attended post-secondary education. The city offers five university-level institutions.

Other pluses include provision of an integrated transportation and logistics system serving North America and the world. Airport, rail and highway systems are excellent. The city offers a good cross-section of housing options and four major hospitals. Each year, visitors from around the globe descend on Calgary for its renowned stampede, the largest in North America. Besides its strong contemporary western and pioneering heritage, the city also offers a wide range of cultural activities.

Overall, Calgary and Alberta create a pro-business environment through low non-residential property taxes, no provincial sales tax, no capital provincial income tax, the lowest personal provincial income tax in Canada and no provincial debt.