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Why look at manufacturing in Alberta? Economics and Research, ATB Financial "Even though its relative weight in the Alberta economy is less than in every other province except Newfoundland and Labrador, manufacturing in Alberta still generated more real GDP last year than, for example, healthcare, retail trade, public administration, finance, education and agriculture." 2 The manufacturing sector generated about six per cent of Alberta's real GDP last year. That might not seem like a lot, but manufacturing is important for more than just its direct economic output (which, at six per cent, is still larger than most other sectors of the economy including, for example, retail, health care, education, public administration, utilities and finance). It's important because manufacturing is a magnet for other economic activity. It becomes something of a chicken and egg situation in an advanced economy like Alberta's in which services, infrastructure, local amenities, natural resources and other variables such as public policy, geography and social norms interact in complex ways, but manufacturing businesses tend to be a base upon which other economic activity is built. Imagine a small town that is home to a single large factory. If the factory closes, the town's corner store might go under. If, on the other hand, the owner of the corner store were to close because the owner retired, the factory would keep operating. Manufacturing is not the only economic magnet available, but it's definitely a key one. Manufacturing is also important because there are significant opportunities to expand and diversify the sector and, in turn, help ensure Alberta's long-term economic prosperity. The growing global middle class represents billions of potential new customers for our products. We should, of course, be thoughtful about this. It's not about returning to a mythical age when "we used to make stuff here." We need to aim higher than mass producing t-shirts or snapping together smart phones and the low-wage jobs associated with manufacturing of that kind. "There are significant opportunities to expand and diversify Alberta's manufacturing sector."

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