The 2014 Alberta Business Barometer
Who thinks what about which issues? Find out in Alberta Venture’s survey of provincial businesspeople
Here’s the bottom line: Alberta is a great place to do business. That’s what you said, and that’s what the evidence supports. But as anyone who can read a financial statement knows, the bottom line isn’t the only interesting one. In Alberta’s case, other line items of note include a tight labour market, too much reliance on one industry, a boom-and-bust economy, and infrastructure that is always behind demands. And there’s much, much more detail between the lines.
is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the world.” – Ben Arber, head of global trade, hsbc, on why the construction sector is the most optimistic
So here they are, the results of our third Business Conditions Survey. This time around, readers from around the province responded to our survey request, and we thank each and every one of them for that. We’ve broken the responses down every which way, including by industry and size of operation, and the results speak volumes: people in manufacturing report having benefited from the U.S. economic recovery the most; smaller companies – and those in retail – are most optimistic about the impact of the Canada-EU free trade agreement; most respondents were OK with the province taking on debt to close the infrastructure gap. (Another interesting tidbit from the retail sector: it was the industry most upbeat about the role of new Canadians in filling the labour gap.)
When it comes to raising capital, we see a variety of opinions, with larger companies and particularly those in the construction and oil and gas industries considerably more satisfied with the situation than smaller companies and those in retail and technology.
There is also evidence, in some cases, that perception does not always match reality. It seems that Albertan businesses have taken to heart the admonition that they must venture beyond our borders, but they’re not sure they’ve been up to the task. By and large, respondents do not think Albertan businesses are making the most of the U.S. and international markets. But, in fact, Albertan exports are climbing the fastest in the country. They increased 5.6 per cent in 2012 over 2011, says Ben Arber, head of global trade at HSBC, and have had a cumulative annual growth rate of 5.7 per cent over the last decade. “It’s too early to say what the growth will be in 2013 over 2012, but we’re expecting six per cent or above,” he says, “and those numbers are above the national average.”
And which sector is the most optimistic? Arber is not surprised that it is construction. Big opportunities await builders in the oil and gas sector, he says, but also in the very infrastructure projects so many businesspeople clamour for. “The infrastructure space in Canada – in terms of its dollar value of planned projects compared to GDP – is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the world,” Arber says. Roads, bridges, deepwater ports, schools and hospitals are all in the mix. “Albertan companies are bidding on these projects and they have more business than they can handle,” he says.
You Said It
“Alberta has the potential to remain Canada’s energy leader while also reducing our carbon footprint by diversifying our energy sources to include renewable energies. Imagine changing Alberta’s global image to that of leading edge in sustainability while remaining financially strong. Albertans can achieve this!”
– Stephani Carter, President and CEO, EcoAmmo
“I expect my business to increase its number of employees over the next 12 months.”
“There are enough skilled workers to draw from.”
“Alberta should build its sovereign wealth fund.”