Economic Diversification Positions Edmonton for Success

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This provincial capital remains an energy hub while also thriving in tech, health care, post-secondary, manufacturing, and logistics.

As the capital city of Alberta, Edmonton’s economy has traditionally been associated with the energy sector. While this remains an important pillar for the city, diversification efforts have led to growth in numerous other sectors, creating a thriving, balanced economy. Let’s explore some of the key industries that fuel the City of Champions.

Energized by Oil and Gas

‘Edmonton Oilers’ is not just the name of the local hockey team, but a nod to the city’s most vital sector. With Alberta’s oil sands located to the north, Edmonton is a hub for exploration, extraction, processing, refining, and distribution.  

The Strathcona Refinery and Suncor Edmonton Refinery both boast major capacity1 and many energy companies are headquartered in the city.

While Edmonton’s geographic location makes it uniquely suited to processing and distributing oil and gas, efforts are ongoing to make the city less reliant on this oft-volatile industry.

Edmonton as a Technological Centre

Edmonton’s energy sector uses a plethora of technology, but the innovation stretches far beyond that. Edmonton is fast becoming a tech hub, with AI, digital media, video game development, and biotechnology all key contributors to the local economy.

The life sciences sector is just one example, with valuable research carried out on diabetes, precision health, pharmaceutical manufacturing, drug discovery, nutraceuticals, diagnostics, and medical devices.

Edmonton Unlimited provides programming and resources that foster technological growth. Their website cites a 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Report that says Edmonton’s start-up ecosystem value increased by 236% in two years, from $191 million in 2020 to $641 million in 2022.2

According to Business in Edmonton, the city ranks seventh nationally for number of start-up deals and 10th for funds invested.3

A key factor in the city’s tech growth is a young, educated workforce, many of whom are a product of the University of Alberta (U of A) or Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

Health Care Hub

It’s not just life science researchers finding employment in Edmonton, but health care providers as well. The city is home to major hospitals including the Royal Alexandra Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital.

In fact, Alberta Health Services is currently the city’s largest employer.4 Despite an ongoing political shake up in Alberta’s healthcare system, the city remains poised to rely heavily on the contributions of medical professionals, many of whom are a product of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

Edmonton’s Post Secondary Landscape

Speaking of Edmonton’s post-secondary institutions, they are vital to the city, both as a source of training and talent and as an employer.

The University of Alberta is a research-intensive university, while NAIT provides hands-on, industry-relevant training in various technical and applied fields. MacEwan University offers a broad spectrum of undergraduate programs.

In fact, Explore Edmonton reports that the city is home to six publicly funded post-secondary institutions, with 180,000 full and part time students.5

Broad Range of Manufacturing Contributes to Edmonton Economy

Edmonton is home to nearly 40% of Alberta’s manufacturing output.6 This high value manufacturing capability includes petrochemicals, machinery, food processing, fabricated metal products, digital products, and clean technology.

Once again, the education system and skilled talent are factors, as are affordable energy, and Edmonton’s inclusion in a trade zone that makes it favourable for attracting foreign business.6

Logistics Infrastructure

Another contributing factor to the success of Edmonton’s manufacturing sector is the abundance of existing logistics infrastructure. Edmonton is considered a gateway to Western Canada’s market of over 10 million people. The city is well connected by road, rail, and air, providing access to the north, south, east, and west.

Trucking firms, warehouses, and other service providers play a major role in this success.

Bright Future for Edmonton

Edmonton is a hard working city and one that is well positioned for future success. As the city continues to diversify its economy, attract investment, and produce a skilled workforce, it will look forward to economic prosperity for the foreseeable future.  

Cited Sources

1 “Refinery Row (Edmonton).” Wikipedia, May 5, 2023.

2 “Innovation from Here for the World.” Edmonton Unlimited, November 7, 2023.

3 Bie. “Edmonton The Tech Hub.” Business In Edmonton, June 30, 2023.

4 Havre, Justin. “Edmonton Economy: Major Industries & Best Companies to Work for in Edmonton [2023].”, February 27, 2023.

5 “Economic Sectors: Explore Edmonton.” Economic sectors | Explore Edmonton. Accessed November 22, 2023. “Advanced Manufacturing.” Edmonton Global, September 21, 2022.