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Not all gloom and doom

Tech sector stays strong in a sluggish economy

As Alberta's economy continues its sluggish recovery, it's nice to see not all news is bad news on the economic front.

Last week, 4iiii Innovations announced an acquisition of an Ontario-based tech company that not only adds to the prosperity of the Cochrane-grown company but will also bring more money and jobs to the community.

While our community has had its share of businesses shutter over the past few years, the technology sector continues to find success with companies such as 4iiii Innovations and Garmin continuing to show growth and employing hundreds of people in high paying jobs.

These success stories are prime examples of the need for Alberta to diversify to try and stave off the continuous boom and bust cycle of the energy sector, though it is unlikely one industry will ever support the load of economic success in Alberta as oil and gas have.

That being said, tourism, technology and cannabis both have the potential to increase the economic prosperity in the province.

Cochrane, through its tourism strategy, is working to tap that market that has shown tremendous success for the communities of Canmore, Banff and Jasper. Tourism dollars in those communities combine for an estimated $1 billion in economic impact. While we aren't a mountain town per se, Cochrane could become the gateway to the Rockies and Kananaskis serving as a hub for backcountry and mountain adventures. Not to mention the value of our own ranching and Indigenous history – in co-operation with the community of Morley.

Cannabis is a growing niche market – pun intended – that is yielding unbelievable results in central Alberta.

Sundial Growers' cannabis production facility fired up in Olds two years ago and since then has expanded from 20 to 500 employees with a projection for 300 more by the end of this year. Those numbers make the company the largest employer in Olds a community of around 9,200 people.

It's great news that Cochrane has found a bit of a niche with technology companies and with talks of increasing fibre optic potential in the community, we could become even more attractive to tech companies.

Diversification is vital to Alberta's economy and communities that have been fortunate enough to capitalize on it either by natural geography, luck or good planning are reaping the benefits.