Economic summit a 'first step' toward bringing Edmonton region together

· The Pulse

About 1,000 people came together for the inaugural forward/slash economic summit on Sept. 28, to unite around a shared vision for the economic future of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.

Hosted by Edmonton Global, the event highlighted achievements and opportunities in hydrogen, food and agriculture, life sciences, AI and technology, and global logistics.

It also provided a chance for Edmonton Global to seek realignment following a year in which several elected officials throughout the region have questioned the value of the organization.

Coun. Sheena Hughes of St. Albert proposed in December 2021 that her city withdraw as a shareholder, following in the footsteps of Bon Accord, Parkland County, and Morinville, which had previously provided notice of their intention to withdraw. That motion from Hughes failed 5-2, however. Parkland County later reversed course and agreed to stay on as a shareholder, in a 6-1 vote on July 12. And last month Morinville town council also decided to remain involved in a tight 4-3 vote. Bon Accord did follow through on its decision to withdraw.

The summit was organized by the 14 municipalities involved in Edmonton Global and more than 40 organizations from across the region that agreed to support the initiative.

Six men seated on stage with the forward/slash logo on a screen behind them

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi joined several other regional leaders at the forward/slash economic summit on Sept. 28 to discuss the opportunities ahead for the Edmonton region. (Edmonton Global/LinkedIn)

That collaboration is foundational for the work to come, said Sherri Bouslama, manager of brand strategy and communications at Edmonton Global.

"We've seen folks who maybe would never have been in the same room together or had a conversation together who are now working together to build something, so that's pretty incredible," she told Global News.

Better telling the story of the region and sharing its successes is one of the key tasks ahead, Bouslama said.

"This event is about all of us coming together and celebrating the opportunities here, and getting on the same page so that we can really be ambassadors for this region outside of this region," Lisa Baroldi, president of BOMA Edmonton and one of the event's steering committee members, told Amplomedia. "We don't want to be a secret anymore."

The summit is a first step, said Edmonton Global CEO Malcolm Bruce in a release.

"It's what comes next that really matters. We have a vision for where our region can go in the next five, 10, and even 20 years," he said. "What we need is everyone rowing in the same direction, and this event is proof that there is a desire to work together to build a prosperous economic future for our region."