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Reasons for optimism for second half of '19

Jul 30, 2019
As we look back on the first six months of the year, the economic news has been a bit of a mixed bag. The unemployment rate finally improved for the first time in seven months in June but at 6.2% remains higher than the same time last year in 2018 at 4.9%. Employment was up by 4,900 jobs from May, with full-time positions accounting for approximately three-quarters of these gains.  At the same time, the situation doesn’t look quite as rosy from a year-over-year comparison as employment is still down 2,300 jobs compared with June 2018 with full-time jobs down 6,600 over the same period. Despite the recent improvement, we still have a way to go to see the same number of jobs in the economy compared to a year ago.

In addition, the agriculture sector which remains a key driver of the Lethbridge economy has been facing headwinds from weather challenges and continued uncertainty in international trade. Resolving current disputes around canola and meat exports to China remain a key concern for our region.  

Despite the challenges, there are many big reasons to be optimistic about a bright future for Lethbridge. In the back half of 2019, we will celebrate the grand opening of the science and academic building at the University of Lethbridge creating new opportunities for students and researchers. Lethbridge will also see the opening of Cavendish Farms’ new french fry manufacturing facility creating new jobs and supporting potato growers across the region. The opening of the Cor Van Ray YMCA at the ATB Centre has already brought new energy and opportunity to the city’s west side.  

Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) often uses the hashtag #southernalbertafeedstheworld on our social media platforms. Meeting increasing global demand for high quality and safe food is an opportunity where southern Alberta’s growers, processors, researchers and supply chain experts can take the lead. We are working with our regional partners to promote Canada’s Premier Food Corridor that stretches from Lethbridge along Highway 3 to Taber. Increasing value added processing right in our own back yard combined with driving increased exports will provide jobs and enhance economic opportunities for all businesses that support the agrifood value chain. (Check out more at  

The City of Lethbridge has invested in the necessary infrastructure to expand the Sherring Business and Industrial Park. Increasing the available serviced land will allow EDL to continue to market the city as a destination for enterprise. We continue to work on attracting new investments in manufacturing, value-added agrifood processing, transportation and logistics. 

Another big opportunity includes the redevelopment of the Lethbridge airport. Work has been completed on a long-term master plan for the terminal building, airport infrastructure and services required to support a logistics and warehousing hub. The airport property has the potential to be home to a broad range of transportation related light industrial and commercial businesses.

It is also important not to overlook the big impact of small business. Most job creation in the economy comes from small and medium sized businesses. A bright spot for Lethbridge is the many innovative entrepreneurs in our community. A recent funding announcement by the federal government will further enhance the work of Economic Development Lethbridge as we support local entrepreneurs and businesses through Tecconnect as well as promote our community as a place where businesses and citizens can thrive. We are also working with a number of partners to identify opportunities and potential barriers to business. 

We work with existing businesses, new businesses to the area and businesses that are just getting off the ground and connect them to opportunities in the city. We know that Lethbridge is a bright choice and we work to share that knowledge with the province, country and world.  Lethbridge is brighter together!

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