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Airdrie is quietly becoming an innovation centre and entrepreneurial powerhouse

As one of Canada’s fastest growing mid-sized cities, Airdrie forecasts population growth of nearly 50 per cent over the next six years, with a head count that is expected to swell from its 2018 census figure of 68,091 to almost 100,000.

It’s a growth curve that has only steepened in recent years, as in the past 10 years alone the population has doubled, up from 34,116.

“Yet, ask anyone what they love about this city and it is most often that we still have that welcoming, small-town feel,” said Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown. “It is this awesome balance of moving forward without leaving our values behind that makes Airdrie great.”

This bedroom community that sits just outside Calgary’s northern borders packs an entrepreneurial punch and is humming with new initiatives. In 2017, the number of business licenses was up 6.8 per cent year-over-year, including 103 new commercial/industrial and 391 home-based businesses, contributing to the creation of 715 new full- and part-time jobs.

“It is this awesome balance of moving forward without leaving our values behind that makes Airdrie great.” – Peter Brown, Airdrie Mayor

Two new shopping centres are currently under development to the tune of $39 million, while a $13-million strip mall will be opening soon.

The housing sector is also strong, scrambling to keep up with the demand spurred on by the influx of new residents. Between April 2017 and April 2018, 971 new single- and multi-family homes were added. The greatest growth occurred in the communities of Hillcrest, Ravenswood and Bayside.

Guiding Airdrie through the growth is a four-year strategic priorities plan, which calls for a revitalization of the downtown core to make it walkable and full of local businesses. The plan also tables a slew of infrastructure improvements, including a new 40th Avenue interchange and an underpass beneath the railroad tracks on Yankee Valley Boulevard.

A new library, high school and recreation centre are already in the planning stages as part of the plan, thanks to a three-way partnership between the City of Airdrie, Rocky View Schools and Mattamy Homes.

Airdrie is also one of the country’s 10 top “Smart Cities.” In the spring of 2018, Airdrie drafted and submitted a Smart Cities Challenge proposal outlining a health-focused digital framework. The proposal earned the city $250,000 in grant money from the Government of Canada.

“Airdrie is a unique city. We are full of innovative and forward thinkers who care about their city and their neighbours,” said Brown.

“When you look at our Smart Cities Challenge proposal and our aim to be Canada’s healthiest community, you see inclusive, big-picture thinkers who want to work together to grow our city in the most remarkable ways.”

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