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Lethbridge-East MLA talks about a post-pandemic economy in southern Alberta

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Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf called the city “resilient” when speaking about the challenges of the post-COVID economy at the Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs on Thursday morning.

He spoke about Alberta’s recent budget and what effect it will have on southern Alberta, specifically Lethbridge.

“These are some really challenging times, and some really challenging issues,” said Neudorf. “One of the things I love about Lethbridge is its diversity.”

Read more: COVID-19: Businesses react to Alberta’s restrictions rewind limiting service at gyms, eateries

He emphasized that southern Alberta differs from the rest of the province.

“One of the benefits of Lethbridge is that we have not seen the ups-and-downs because we’re not an oil and gas based economy,” Neudorf said. “We’re much more of an agricultural based economy.”

And agriculture will play a key role in the economy post-pandemic.

He focused on, what he called, strategic investments. Those include Highway 3 twinning, the Lethbridge airport, and Exhibition Park.

Read more: Southern Alberta stakeholders weigh in on Highway 3 twinning project

Each one offers a chance for economic growth.

Trevor Lewington, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge, believes this is the right move.

“Those are all what we tend to call catalytic projects because they prompt spending in other areas of the economy,” he said.

But two stand out to Neudorf.

Read more: ‘Historic’ $815M irrigation investment announced for southern Alberta agriculture

“Highway 3 and irrigation investments in particular are two of the main requirements that we’ve heard from private industries for their further investments in this area,” he said.

Being so close to the United States border also has its benefits. Neudorf hopes Lethbridge’s location will offer business opportunities with the neighbors down south.

“We’ve got great location and great logistics capabilities,” said Lewington. “It’s a question of mirroring those two things together.”

Read more: Canada-U.S. border will reopen ‘eventually,’ but more patience needed: Trudeau

The future of life and business post-pandemic is still uncertain, but Lewington believes changes are inevitable.

“The interesting thing on the other side will be to see what kinds of jobs come back and in what way,” he said. “We know that some businesses have restructured, and some jobs that were impacted by the pandemic might never come back”

But he reiterates Lethbridge’s future is looking bright.

“Lethbridge is resilient. All of the core ingredients are there. We’re well positioned to take advantage of the future. We have a very strong innovation system with lots of entrepreneurs.”