Sales of equipment related to dental and health care were up sharply; demand for instrumentation for the energy sector fell.
But at the end of the day, the total revenue from goods manufactured in the Red Deer region during 2007 was comparable to the tally for 2006.
This was a finding of Red Deer Regional Development’s annual manufacturing survey, the results of which were announced Thursday. Respondents reported combined sales of $6.2 billion for 2007, up $2.1 million from the total revenues claimed the previous year.
Cyril Cooper, land and economic development officer with the City of Red Deer, said this performance is pretty good, considering that local manufacturers have been hurt by the high loonie, a slowdown in the natural gas industry and scarce labour.
“Given those three big obstacles, the local economy still remains very strong,” he said.
Although the energy sector remains the “bread and butter” of Central Alberta’s manufacturing industry, other products like furniture are on the rise.
This helped balance a decline in demand for oilpatch equipment, suggested Cooper.
“It does demonstrate diversification.”
He also credited local companies for adopting new technologies, improving efficiencies, diversifying into other products and pursuing new markets.
Their success in looking elsewhere for buyers is reflected in the fact that half of survey respondents said they sold internationally last year, up from 18 per cent in 2006.
The health of the local manufacturing industry is critical to Central Alberta’s economy, said Cooper.
He pointed out that manufacturing has a very high multiplier effect when it comes to job creation.
Red Deer Regional Development is an economic partnership consisting of the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County, the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce and Red Deer College. This year, it sent its survey to 219 regional manufacturers, with 62 per cent of these responding.
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