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Nenshi provides Calgary as the hub for the technology conference in Toronto – Calgary

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and 100 people from the city’s tech area are in Toronto this week attending the collision conference.

Nenshi uses Calgary’s talented workforce, readily available and affordable office space, and low cost of living as selling points for the conference, where he hopes the city will attract new and emerging tech startups.

“[It’s] A real opportunity to tell the story of the innovation economy in Calgary, ”Nenshi told Global News on Wednesday. “We are really here to attract the investments, people and customers of our startups to Calgary.”

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With Calgary facing tough economic times and massive layoffs over the past five years, the city’s downtown area has plummeted to a vacancy rate of 25 percent.

Nenshi hopes that affordable space and a lot of skilled workers looking for work will fuel investment in the city.

“We have a lot of tremendous talent looking for opportunities right now,” said Nenshi. “We have these incredibly well-trained, well-trained technical staff because of the work they have done in the industry in the past. Tons of engineers, tons of data scientists, and young people who are really interested in innovating. “

Another selling point is Premier Jason Kenney’s recent announcement that the provincial corporate tax rate will be cut from the current 12 percent on July 1 to 11 percent. The province promised to cut the tax again by one point in the first few days of 2020. 2021 and 2022 to ultimately bring it to eight percent.

“Alberta has always been open to business. Calgary has always been the best place in Canada to start and grow a business, and we will continue to do so, ”said Nenshi. “I know the Prime Minister and I share a common goal which is to bring great jobs and investments to Calgary.”

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Nenshi’s mission in Toronto was well received by technology companies already formed in Calgary.

ZayZoon has been in business in Calgary since 2014. 20 people work in their office in downtown Calgary.

The financial technology company works with payroll companies to provide employees across North America with access to part of their payroll between paychecks.

Shubh Sidhu, director of partner engagement at ZayZoon, said the company had started launching in the past three years.

Although two out of three founders are from Calgary, the cost of office space and life, as well as the talent pool, are the reasons they decided to stay rather than move to bigger tech hubs like Toronto and Vancouver.

“Calgary was known almost exclusively as an energy city in the past,” said Sidhu. “But because of the existing infrastructure and talent, we are, in my opinion, a well-kept secret. I think this is starting to change. “

It remains to be seen whether Nenshi’s trip to Toronto will pay off, but given the steady growth of tech companies in Calgary, Sidhu hopes more companies will open business in the city.

“More success brings success. I think if we all become more successful, we will lift each other up and make investments here and also help other companies here to grow,” said Sidhu.

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Sidhu commends the city for its efforts to raise awareness of the technology sector in Calgary, but believes it is critical to increasing educational opportunities for Calgarians aspiring to transition into technology.

Sidhu says the city that lands a large tech company or a success story for a local business will put Calgary on the tech sector map.

“We need unicorns. We have to be successful, ”said Sidhu. “We have companies that are successful, they breed talent, but people also say, ‘Hey, these people did it there. Why can’t we do it there? ‘”

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Back in Toronto, Nenshi hopes his efforts will attract not only tech companies or large app developers, but tech companies that could help diversify other industries in the province.

“If we actually get the next big app in Calgary, we’d be thrilled,” said Nenshi. “But we’re actually looking at technology, AI, and machine learning to enable other industries.”

The collision conference is taking place for the fifth time and includes 700 speakers and 5,600 companies from 120 countries.

Around 25,000 participants are expected to come through the conference during the three-day event.

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Nenshi said he wanted to educate as many people as possible about Calgary’s technology sector. He hopes to attract entrepreneurs to tackle some of the toughest problems affecting not just the Alberta economy, but health, transportation, nutrition and energy as well.

“In a world where there is [are] Canada and Calgary are defiantly so open to everyone, open to the best ideas, open to the best people, and that’s the story I keep telling and I’m very happy to do it, “said Nenshi.

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