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.”


Just Posted

Break-in at Red Deer business

Social media reports confirm a business break and enter in Red Deer… Continue reading

‘Rough waters’: Spill raises new questions about fast-growing N.L. oil industry

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s ambitious plans to dramatically expand… Continue reading

Trudeau rules out snap election call, national ballot slated for Oct. 21

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there will be no early… Continue reading

Canadian firm says it has found largest diamond ever unearthed in North America

YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian mining firm says it has unearthed the largest… Continue reading

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Man who demolished landmark house ordered to build replica

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval… Continue reading

Quebecers criticize western oil but buying more gasoline, SUVs, bigger homes: report

MONTREAL — Quebec’s premier is quick to reject “dirty” oil from Western… Continue reading

Speaker Geoff Regan opens the door to his apartment in Parliament

OTTAWA — One of the best-kept secrets inside the main building on… Continue reading

Baloo the cat is back at home after being mistakenly shipped to Montreal

HALIFAX — Much to the relief of his loving family, Baloo the… Continue reading

‘It’s what we do’: Famous Newfoundlanders help replace veteran’s stolen guitar

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Two famous Newfoundlanders stepped in to help an… Continue reading

Quebec’s anti-corruption unit blames media coverage for recruiting troubles

MONTREAL — Seven years after it was created, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit is… Continue reading

Former PQ cabinet minister poised to become next Bloc Quebecois leader

MONTREAL — It appears likely that Yves-Francois Blanchet, a former Parti Quebecois… Continue reading

Most Read