We’re only eight weeks into the new year, but the good business and economic news that was a hallmark of Medicine Hat’s business beat in 2018 looks set to continue apace in 2019.
In January, Folium Biosciences announced plans to build an industrial scale cannabinoid extraction facility in the northwest quadrant of the city. Upon completion, the $30-million project will create 250 new full-time jobs in processing, extraction, and production of highly valued ingredients and finished packaged goods.
On the renewable energy front, two separate solar energy companies announced in February a $130-million commitment to the region, with potential to create an estimated 600 new construction jobs. Once complete, the new solar energy production facilities will supply 163 megawatts of electricity to the grid. As is the case with the hemp and cannabis sector, Medicine Hat is poised to reap the benefits of renewable energy capital investment for many years to come.
The above mentioned announcements come hot on the heels of December’s news that EDF Renewables will proceed with the Cypress Wind Project this year, with construction expected to peak at 250 jobs, and that Tokai Carbon will invest $40 million into expanding carbon black production capacity at Cancarb, one of the world’s most advanced carbon black manufacturing facilities.
Add it all together and what have you got? From December 2018 to February 2019, international investors committed something in the neighbourhood of $350 million to Medicine Hat and region. At peak activity levels, these new projects will result in hundreds new construction jobs, not to mention the full-time operating positions that will continue in perpetuity.
Major capital projects in Canada’s sunniest city lend confidence to property developers who have responded with new hotels, apartment blocks and subdivisions in anticipation of growth to come. The small business community has also taken note, with new and expanded offerings in accounting, legal and other professional services a welcome addition to the region’s major service centre.
The big questions heading into 2019 have to do with the local labour market. How many people will move to Medicine Hat for careers in hemp, cannabis and renewable energy? How many positions will be filled by resident Hatters? Will wages in the new industries be enough to offset losses in oil and gas? It is with this in mind that local stakeholders are working to develop a labour market strategy to understand and address the changing dynamics.
Economic growth is not without its challenges. Recent success in attracting new business to Medicine Hat will result in change on many fronts. There is no doubt that Medicine Hat’s economy is in a state of transition, with many outcomes to be determined. In spite of our uncertain future, it bears repeating that investors the world over remain steadfast in their commitment Medicine Hat and region.
This article was published in the Medicine Hat News Business Beat on Feb. 28, 2019.