Diversity key to enduring economic slide

The pain from low oil prices has been felt in Red Deer, but diversity may help the city weather the economic storm.

The pain from low oil prices has been felt in Red Deer, but diversity may help the city weather the economic storm.

Reg Warkentin, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce policy co-ordinator, said in an email that the slump in oil prices is starting to have a ripple effect in the local economy, extending beyond energy sector businesses.

“With sub $50 oil, drilling activity is half of what it was a year ago, and major construction projects have been put on hold and even shelved indefinitely,” writes Warkentin.

“We’ve heard about a number of businesses making layoffs to get to the point where they can keep themselves afloat, maintain core operations, but still be prepared for when activity picks up.”

However, Warkentin pointed to diversity as a factor in how the city will handle the economic situation.

“A number of businesses have been looking to diversify their revenue sources, like the oilfield manufacturers who are starting to sell more products abroad to places such as the Middle East, where activity remains strong.”

The most recent unemployment statistics indicate Alberta had a six per cent unemployment rate as of July. That’s the same as B.C. and lower than Ontario, which is at 6.4 per cent.

According to Statistics Canada, Red Deer’s unemployment was 7.3 per cent, above the provincial average, in July. The jobless rate has increased significantly from 2014, when it was 2.8 per cent in the same month.

“Our little economy is a little more diversified than we give it credit for,” said Warkentin. “There are a number of major projects underway, such as the Nova expansion, infrastructure projects like new schools and roadways and assisted living facilities. Construction of new homes remains strong, too.”

An Aug. 7 news release from the City of Red Deer said commercial building permits were up in 2015 (from January to July) with 98 permits valued at $21.8 million compared to 2014, with 77 permits valued at $10.67 million.

Residential permits were down from 818 permits valued at $68.56 million in 2014 to 652 permits valued at $53.7 million.

“Most local businesses have been through a slowdown like this at least a few times,” said Warkentin. “They maintain a positive attitude, adapting to meet challenges outside of their control.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick sign memorandum of understanding

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Chris Kempczinski, then-incoming president of McDonald’s USA, speaks during a presentation at a McDonald’s restaurant in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, McDonald’s said the company will mandate worker training to combat harassment, discrimination and violence in its restaurants worldwide starting in 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
McDonald’s to mandate anti-harassment training worldwide

New standards starting in January 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin awarded $5.1 million grant for additional RCMP officers

10 Additional RCMP officers to serve the City of Wetaskiwin as a result of the grant.

In this Nov. 12, 1995, file photo, Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy looks on during the second quarter of the Bills game against the Atlanta Falcons at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Bill Sikes, File
Former Alouettes head coach Marv Levy tops 2021 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class

The ‘21 class will boost the Hall of Fame’s membership to 316

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, provides an update on health system preparations in Nova Scotia for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in Halifax on Friday, March 6, 2020. Strang says plans are in place to stage the women’s world hockey championship in the province next month with limited spectators.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Nova Scotia plans to allow limited crowds at women’s world hockey championship

All 10 teams in Halifax and Truro must participate in a 14-day quarantine

”Kim’s Convenience” cast member Andrew Phung poses in this undated handout photo. “Kim’s Convenience” has just ended but Andrew Phung is already “knee-deep in ideas and stories” for his next project, “Run the Burbs.” The Calgary-raised actor, who played comical car-rental employee Kimchee on “Kim’s,” co-created the upcoming comedy series and will star in it as a stay-at-home dad with an entrepreneur wife and two kids. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - CBC
‘Kim’s Convenience’ actor Andrew Phung on crafting his own series, ‘Run the Burbs’

‘Run the Burbs’ production could start in the summer or fall

Canisia Lubrin poses in this undated handout photo. Rising literary talent Canisia Lubrin is among the Canadian finalists for the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize. The Griffin Trust announced the three homegrown wordsmiths and four international poets on this year’s short list on Wednesday. Lubrin, who recently received the US$165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize, is nominated for “The Dyzgraphxst” (pronounced diss-graff-ist), published by McClelland and Stewart. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Anna Keenan
Rising writer Canisia Lubrin among Canadian finalists for $65K Griffin Poetry Prize

Griffin will award two winners, one international and one Canadian

A prairie fire in the Burnt Lake district. (Photo by Bert Fors via Red Deer Archives)
Michael Dawe: Fires of spring 1931 in central Alberta

Central Alberta has just come through a relatively warm and dry winter… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Opinion: Boris Johnson is to blame for what’s happening in Ireland

Twenty-three years of peace in Northern Ireland, after a sectarian war that… Continue reading

Most Read