“There are no second acts in American lives.” - Ernest Hemingway
Economic development, especially in resource economies, has historically been a balancing act between forced false choices – growth vs. equity; opportunity vs. outcomes; profit vs. people; economics vs. environment. Traditional approaches to economic policy have devolved into existential battles between two ideological solitudes, further entrenched in social and political divides that prevent meaningful discussion, policy and execution.
Alberta, for long the engine of Canada’s growth, faces not only these policy debates, but also a new uncertainty related to what has historically been its primary resource – non-renewable traditional energy sources. Optimism in the face of uncertainty is no policy, and Alberta needs to balance a continued focus on the oil sands with a diversified and renewed focus on the other two critical natural resources every sovereign has at its disposal – land and people.
The planned and purposeful application of emerging technology to economic development, through a true partnership between entrepreneurs, governments and societies, can create new employment opportunities, new pathways to success, and new communities linked through technology into common social and economic pursuits.
Financial institutions, particularly through credit, become critical to this new model for economic development, by supporting the various drivers of innovation, making opportunities available to a broad ecosystem of citizens and residents, and reflecting emerging patterns of value and consumption that are different from what existed even 10 years ago. Innovation in finance, when partnered with technology-driven economic development, can truly revolutionize how societies are defined, formed and function, and how value is defined, created, and shared.
What progressive digital initiatives are being leveraged in Alberta to improve not only the survivability of private business or government, but also the survivability of the province at large? How are public-private sector partnerships being leveraged to accelerate the rate of innovation and economic diversification across the province? Is it realistic to think Alberta can transform itself from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy in time to effectively compete in the digital age?
These are the questions that will be asked and sought to be answered at the first chapter of Changes Becomes Us.