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Calgary has the know-how

Calgary might be known for its oil wells, but this forward-thinking city has already made great strides into the renewable energy sector, writes James Lancaser, and positioned itself as an innovation hub.

Almost a third of Canada’s total wind turbines are operated by Calgary-based companies, who have been active in the sector for more than 20 years, but the ambition doesn’t end there.

The state of Alberta plans to eliminate coal plants by 2030, replacing at least 50-75 per cent with renewable power, increasing clean energy’s market share to 30 per cent.

These are the kind of figures the city’s conference ambassadors – known as Calgary Champions – will have at their fingertips when trying to persuade international organisations to meet in the city.

There are more than 80 such ambassadors who work with convention bureau Meetings + Conventions Calgary to bid for conferences and lobby influential association leaders to back the city.

They represent various key industries: energy (almost two-thirds of the city’s HQs are in this field) tech (including Clean Tech), finance, agriculture, manufacturing, medical, and transport and logistics.

Groups who have met in Calgary after successful lobbying from the city’s ambassadors include the Society of Vertebrae Paleontology, the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the World Buddhist Women’s Convention, and the International Play Association.

Dave Sclanders, executive director, Meetings + Conventions Calgary, explains why making connections with the city’s academic and business leaders is so important.

“The intellectual capital and legacy content that resides in the city post conference is priceless and goes well beyond the core economic impact of events. Community support groups related to the international associations cannot afford to send all mid-level employees to international conferences. When the conference takes place in their city, it is an invaluable networking and educational opportunity for local community groups.”