Research reveals softening perceptions of Calgary among business leaders in other cities, while worker perceptions hold steady

Small Business Canada

Perceptions of Calgary softened among business leaders but held fairly steady among workers in other cities in 2023, influenced by increased uncertainty among Canadian business leaders, lower consumer and business confidence and growing affordability concerns.

This is according to research commissioned by Calgary Economic Development and delivered by research firm, Stone-Olafson.

“Perceptions is a long game, but one thing is clear from this year’s results: we cannot underestimate the power of coming together to own our own story,” says Brad Parry, President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development and CEO, Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund. “We must do this while also navigating broader economic and political trends shaped by global and national events happening beyond our city limits.”

In 2023, 82 per cent of surveyed business leaders held a favourable view of Calgary, an eight per cent decrease from 2022, influenced by growing uncertainty around Calgary’s economic and workforce diversity from those in other Canadian cities. Although consideration of expanding to Calgary has decreased among business leaders, they are currently not looking to expand anywhere.

At the same time, the percentage of workers with a favourable view of Calgary held fairly steady at 70 per cent (a two per cent decrease from 2022). Sixty-one percent of workers agreed Calgary is an affordable place to live, 58 per cent agreed it’s an easy place to live and 61 per cent agreed it’s a place to build a career.

Calgary remains the number one city both Canadian and American workers would consider moving to, compared to other Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Calgary received high scores in the top three factors respondents consider when evaluating a move, which are: affordability, a clean, safe, comfortable city and income growth opportunities.

Results from the annual external perceptions survey inform Calgary Economic Development’s efforts to attract, retain and expand the companies, capital and talent the city needs to thrive. This includes telling Calgary’s story, business development activities, talent attraction campaigns and identifying areas for industry and government collaboration.

“For eight years, Calgary Economic Development has measured perceptions of business leaders and workers in other cities, enabling data-driven decision-making when it comes to promoting Calgary across Canada and around the world,” said Mathew Stone, partner at Stone-Olafson. “These insights can be leveraged by industry, civic institutions and governments alike to inform potential paths forward to shape Calgary’s economy.”

The 2023 perceptions results are based on an online survey of 1,021 workers and 445 business leaders from Oct. 2 to Oct. 14, 2023, across 10 cities in Canada and the United States. An approximate margin of error associated with this sample size is +/- 2.3 per cent.

“At Calgary Economic Development, we will redouble our efforts in 2024 to ensure that Calgary’s true story is being told and heard, here and abroad. We look forward to working together with our partners to bring that story to life in new ways,” adds Brad Parry.


Calgary Economic Development is an opportunity-maker, helping to spark and fuel Calgary’s growth. Our job is to connect people with resources that can help them grow their careers or businesses, thrive in new locations or markets and feel at home in our community. We steward the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy with the mandate to position Calgary for long-term economic success by supporting the expansion, retention and acquisition of companies, capital and talent. We offer a wealth of information to help everyone succeed and we tirelessly promote Calgary, in Canada and around the world. For more information, please visit our website at and follow us on LinkedIn.

SOURCE Calgary Economic Development Ltd.

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