They are entrepreneurs, business leaders and community builders. These seven people are examples of the kinds of big thinkers Edmonton needs as the city continues to grow. They understand how vital locally owned businesses are to a community — and they are bullish on Edmonton’s future.
Meet and Greet Field Notes (Faaiza Ramji)
Edmonton is uniquely positioned for success, says Faaiza Ramji, founder of Field Notes, which produces liqueurs from Alberta-grown products. The city skews young, and is fueled by both an entrepreneurial spirit and a business community eager to support each other. That’s especially true as the local economy shifts and new business leaders rise.
“People who have been business leaders for a long time are starting to retire, and they’re handing their business down, or helping support a young entrepreneur to try something new,” says Ramji.
This mix of young energy and a supportive business community is what made Ramji want to start her business in Edmonton.
“I think there are really interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs here. There are not only people who are willing to put up their hand and help you, but there’s going to be a lot more opportunities for new leaders to emerge as the city grows.”
Meet and Greet California Closets (Cameron Johnson)
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, begins the Mother Goose nursery rhyme.
After 20 years in business, Cameron Johnson knows these qualities are the key to riding the highs and lows of the Alberta economy.
“To survive as a business owner you have to be willing to change quickly or you’ll fail,” says Johnson, the owner of California Closets Alberta. “We’ve been such a hot and cold economy in this province that we have to react to make sure we survive. We respond depending on where the economy is heading. We have the ability to ramp up or down quite quickly, and we’ve done so many times over 20 years.”
Johnson’s survival strategy has also seen him diversify into a variety of other solutions, including libraries, lighting and commercial applications. He hopes Edmonton’s business community will be bolstered by continued support for small business and entrepreneurship, tax credits and new training programs.
While attending a recent dinner with other business community members, zag president and CEO Alyson Hodson noticed many faces around the table she didn’t recognize – which gave her hope for Edmonton’s economic future.
“It makes me excited that we have this young, upcoming, vigorous youth,” says Hodson. “They’re going to do great work.”
Hodson is inspired by seeing the younger generation coming up in Edmonton’s business community. Young entrepreneurs are innovating in fields like AI and machine learning. This innovation, along with Edmonton’s affordability and entrepreneurial spirit, makes the city a hidden gem – and Hodson thinks we should take more pride in it.
While Edmonton has faced its fair share of challenges, it’s important, she says, to focus on the positive momentum building in the city.
“We have so much to offer,” she says. “We should be proud of what we have here.”