Despite slower growth and a global economic downturn, the Calgary Chamber is predicting Calgary and Alberta will continue to lead the country in economic growth in 2013.

“The risks of a global downturn are now higher than they’ve been since 2008,” said Calgary Chamber chief economist Ben Brunnen. “But despite the weakened global economy, Calgary and Alberta will continue to be the envy of the country in the year ahead.”

The Chamber’s Economic Outlook predicts Calgary will close out 2012 with four to 4.2 per cent GDP growth. While not as strong as the previous year, Calgary and Alberta will also continue to lead the country in economic growth in 2013 with GDP growth once again reaching upwards of four per cent.

Brunnen also had some advice for Calgary business owners during his talk at the Risk Management Association economic panel.

“In this heightened risk environment, economic fortunes may change on a monthly basis and successful businesses will be those that maximize resiliency,” he said. “Business can prepare by diversifying their low-cost credit providers, exercising caution in expansion plans, and offering flexibility as well as customized products.”

The good news from the Calgary Chamber comes on the heels of positive numbers from Statistics Canada showing consumers in Alberta hit another record high in August with retail spending of $5.76 billion—up 0.4 per cent month over month.

“Comparing the first eight months of 2012 with the same period last year, total sales are higher by nearly nine per cent,” said ATB economist Todd Hirsch. “Even if you strip out the 2.5 per cent population growth and the small amount of price inflation in the province, the increase is still significant.”

In a recently released commercial investor report from RE/MAX, the city’s commercial sector was singled out for the increase in U.S. and big box retailers.

“Consumer confidence remains high, given the city’s and province’s solid economic footing, which continues to be bolstered by a robust oil sector,” said the report. “Most segments of the market are active, with the retail, office and investment components particularly busy.”

Calgary Chamber of Commerce 2013 Economic Outlook