More diversity sought for agency overseeing $100M fund meant to 'reinvent' Calgary

The agency is aiming to boost new industry sectors, such as technology, to fill a gap left by the struggling energy and real estate sectors.

'We just simply have to break our addiction from energy,' oilpatch veteran Jim Gray says

A board has been set up to manage a $100-million fund meant to help small- and medium-sized businesses grow to fill the gap left by a struggling energy industry. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

A director of a new Calgary investment fund says they'll be looking for greater diversity when appointing the final board member.

The agency is aiming to boost new industry sectors, such as technology, to fill a gap left by the struggling energy and real estate sectors.

The board, announced this week, will manage the city's Economic Development Investment Fund of $100 million, meant to grow small- and medium-sized Calgary businesses.

Most of the new board members in charge of doling out stimulus money are experienced business leaders — but many are in those industries that have struggled lately.

"I mean, each of us have a very, very broad network within the community," director Jim Gray said Tuesday morning on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"I think we'll broaden the board.... We'll add a little bit more technology, et cetera, and diversity, but lookit: we're very, very dedicated. We've been working very hard. We all know people in the technology sector."

Jim Gray, businessman and philanthropist, has been appointed to a board managing a $100-million fund of public money meant to boost local Calgary business. (CBC)

It's unclear how the board will find the expertise to make that happen.

In response to Eyeopener questions, Gray said he agrees the board's experience may have to be widen to make this happen. He himself is an oilpatch veteran and chairman of the Energy Group of Brookfield Asset Management.

"Calgary needs to reinvent itself, frankly," Gray said. "It'll take five or 10 years for this to totally materialized but we just simply have to break our addiction from energy — and move to other areas."

The board has one more director spot to fill. The full list of board members includes:

  • Mayor Naheed Nenshi, ex-officio member.
  • Jeff Davison, city councillor for Ward 6.
  • Steve Allen, chairman of Calgary Economic Development Board.
  • Jim Gray, chairman of the Energy Group of Brookfield Asset Management.
  • Barry Munro, president of Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc.
  • Cheryl Gottselig, partner of Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer LLP.
  • Scott Hutcheson, executive chairman of Aspen Properties.
  • Ian Bruce, stock broker, former CEO of Peters & Co. Limited.
  • Michael Brown, president and CEO of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.
  • Independent member TBD 

City council created the fund late last year in an effort to improve the economy, which is struggling after the oil and gas industry downturn. Jobs have been cut, and office vacancy rates are close to 28 per cent downtown.

"This is not a rescue operation," Gray said.

"This is where startups, young people, technology firms, small- and medium-sized firms, primary funding and secondary funding [are] creating jobs, creating opportunities in downtown Calgary."

Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary's special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener