Happy days are here again
NHL return sign of recent positive momentum in Winnipeg
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/07/2011 (4263 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With the sun shining, the downtown busy with summertime festival activity and the return of the NHL only months away, it’s a fitting time for the city to achieve its highest score ever in a ranking of city economies.
Winnipeg was third in the summer edition of the quarterly CIBC World Markets Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index, released Monday.
The city’s strong economic performance — the index is a measure of nine macroeconomic variables — was something even CIBC officials were not expecting.
“It’s all about the Jets,” CIBC’s deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal said jokingly.
But in all seriousness, he also noted, “The positive momentum in Winnipeg is a relatively new development.”
The city has come a long way. Winnipeg was not even included in the CIBC’s December 2008 version of the Metropolitan Index due to a lack of data.
But its relatively stable performance through the recession has meant indicators such as the unemployment rate, bankruptcy rates, MLS sales and housing starts have performed well.
“Things are happening,” Tal said. “The labour market is better, employment is improving, the housing market is fine. The city has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. There’s something to say about that.”
He attributes some of the success to Winnipeg’s long-admired diversified economy.
But he also said he believes the strong score has at least something to do with the fact that Winnipeg was starting from a lower point than other places.
“There is positive momentum,” said Tal. “But it’s easier for Winnipeg to gain momentum compared with Calgary, for example, which operated at a high level of activity (before the recession), making it difficult to regain the same degree of momentum.”
He said he also believes the strong performance is not a fluke.
Winnipeg ranked sixth among the 25 largest cities tracked in the index in year-over-year population growth, it had the fourth-lowest consumer and business bankruptcy rates, it was third in growth in MLS unit sales and had the lowest unemployment rate.
Greg Dandewich, vice-president of Economic Development Winnipeg Inc., said it’s great to see the city performing well in the context of other Canadian cities. “The last few years we have held our own fairly well,” he said.
He said he also believes the success of the city’s economic diversity is sustainable.
“What happened through the recession is that, for instance, the advanced manufacturing sector has invested in technology and now are starting to see a positive impact,” Dandewich said.
And both agree the return of an NHL team to the city really can have an economic impact.
“There are real spinoffs,” said Tal, noting tourism and service sector activities in particular.
Dandewich said a greater sense of confidence in the city can prompt investments already being contemplated to be made more quickly.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.