The City of Surrey once again held the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit on February 27.
The summit was held at the Guildford Sheraton and security was unsurprisingly tight. Known for inviting high profile entrepreneur and foreign dignitaries, this year certainly did not disappoint. Amongst many local leaders and influential personalities, oil tycoon, T Boone Pickens, was very entertaining as he reminisced on his career beginnings.
The morning kicked off with Mayor Dianne Watts welcoming the audience to the summit and detailing the tremendous growth in Surrey over the past decade. Mayor Watts emphasized that our city has been growing in many different aspects. More residents, infrastructure and businesses have all contributed to Surrey becoming the second largest city in our province. BC’s Minister of Finance, Mike De Jong, followed up to the Mayor’s introduction. His segment was short and he really drove the point of BC’s balanced budget to the audience.
The summit’s first panel was comprised of Michael Goldberg, former Dean of UBC’s Sauder School of Business; Ken Peacock, Economist; Andy Ramlo, Executive Director of Urban Futures and Shauna Sylvester, Executive Director of SFU Public Square. The panel covered topics included the current state of the Canadian dollar and the implications it will have on exports to America, new trade relationships with other countries and the dilemma of the cost of living in BC. The common theme of the discussion was that this generation feels worse off than their parents and BC needs to bring down the cost of living in order to attract and retain the best talent to grow our economy.
(T. Boone Pickens. Image source)
Perhaps the highlight of the day was the dialogue by T. Boone Pickens. Mr. Pickens shared his career journey and his future plans. If you thought his age would slow him down, think again. At the forefront of his energy philosophy is for nations to use their own energy, which is why he is an advocate of the controversial Keystone Pipeline project. Mr. Pickens didn’t keep it all business, he also reminisced on his university athletic career and shared some tidbits of advice his grandmother gave him when he was a young boy. I was quite surprised at how humorous and charismatic he was, it was hard to not smile or laugh every few minutes while listening to him.
The grand finale of the event was the final panel. Hosted by Bill Good, the former Prime Ministers of Israel, Australia and Greece weighed in on what is in store for the global economy. Former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, stressed the importance of a sound and conservative banking system. He insisted that the stability of a financial system is key to riding out economic downturns like the one we faced in 2008. The other panelists agreed and insisted that the global economy is a collaborative system; when one region hurts, it takes a toll on the world’s economy.
Mayor Watts closed the summit by thanking guests and speakers. She again emphasized that the growth Surrey has seen in the past decade is only the beginning for our city.