A proposal set to be presented to a Calgary city council committee Tuesday will ask for an additional $90 million for a special fund meant to spur economic development in the city.

Earlier this year, city council approved putting $10 million into the Economic Development and Investment Fund to help revitalize the downtown — an idea that came out of the downturn economic summit in March.

Coun. Evan Woolley says the $10 million is ideally intended to help fill up the glut of vacant office space remaining from the recession.

But he says the city needs to think much bigger if it wants to succeed in drawing major new companies and jobs to Calgary.

"We need to be bold if we are to compete globally," he said.

Evan Woolley

Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley says the Economic Development and Investment Fund could help Calgary compete for global business opportunities. (CBC)

A report, released Tuesday, recommends to the priorities and finance committee that another $90 million is needed for the fund, and that the cash could come from the city's savings accounts. 

Woolley says the money will be used to lure companies, perhaps draw a post-secondary school downtown or leverage money from other governments.

Success need to be measurable

"Attracting a significant head office to Calgary, making a big move like bringing a post-secondary institution downtown, attracting an emerging high-tech sector, building a distribution centre — all of those things. And if we want to do lots of them, they are going to take orders of magnitude that size of fund," he said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says, in principle, the fund is a good idea, but its successes will have to be visible.

"It may not be dollars back to the fund, but it should be dollars back to the city, in increased property tax, in increased employment, in increased economic activity. And that's all stuff we can measure," he said.

The city's report to the committee says the fund's guiding principles will include fast and agile processes, strategic investments, rigorous business case reviews and validation by objective third-parties.

City administrators are working with Calgary Economic Development and the fund's steering committee to lay out a governance model for the fund.

The steering committee has been consulting business leaders in Calgary and examining similar funds in other North American cities as part of its research.

With files from Scott Dippel Articled from the CBC RSS Syndication CBC.ca - RSS Feeds Copyright is that of their respective owners (CBC).


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