Idea Lab with Alex Fallon: Challenging the norms of Saskatchewan business and economics
How do we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?
That’s a question we get asked all the time. Initially, I thought we needed to create some sort of economic recovery plan.…but then I remembered March 6, 2020, just moments before COVID hit Saskatoon and the JUNOs were cancelled.
Many of us (655 to be precise, 657 if you count my kids) were at the SREDA Forum, where we released Growing Together: Saskatoon’s first-ever economic growth strategy. I say we because this was very much a strategy built by the Saskatoon community. If you were there, you may remember the Mayor’s introduction to the strategy, not to mention talks by Peter from the University, plus the Chamber, Nutrien… the list goes on…about how the plan could spur growth in Saskatoon.
What if this same strategy could also be used as a roadmap to recovery from one of the harshest challenges our city has ever faced?
Now, more than ten months into the pandemic, the purpose of the growth strategy resonates stronger than we could have imagined at the time. It was intended to “be a living strategy … remain[ing] flexible to new opportunities and challenges as they arise.” Well, challenges have certainly occurred, with many enduring unemployment and businesses struggling amid the economic impact of COVID.
But we know how to recover and grow again – because we already have a plan. It’s the four focus areas outlined in Growing Together:
- Be Known as Canada’s Most Livable Mid-Sized City
- Be a Center Where Industries Grow Through Innovation
- Be a Leader in Indigenous Economic Reconciliation
- Continue to Be a Global Leader in Natural Resources
These focus areas are the culmination of more than a year of consultation across industries. The individuals and organizations who contributed to Growing Together were in many ways creating a blueprint for how to reestablish our city’s strengths after an unexpected blow.
Admittedly, certain sectors have proved more resilient in the time of COVID-19 than others. The pandemic has had disproportionate effects that must be taken into account as we make progress on these focus areas. But that is a challenge I know we can rise to. The economy has changed, and we must adapt. We can’t look back (in nostalgia or, as Oasis would say, in anger); we need to increase our efforts to meet the new supply and demand trends of an economy that has been forever transformed by the pandemic.
In Growing Together, we said: “From the swiftly flowing river where Saskatchewan gets its name, to the vast, ever-changing sea of sky above us, Saskatoon is a special place.” It’s on all of us to make sure that same special place is one where all people can thrive as we recover. We have the roadmap – now let’s get started. Recovery and growth, that’s our focus.
Want to get a paper copy of Growing Together or have ideas on how to help rebuild? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.