An important effort is underway and it is vital that our community of creative producers understand and leverage it to its greatest effect. Alberta is seeing, for the first time, a tax incentive for investors in technologies that have survived on the fringes of the economic development realm in Alberta. While other provinces have successfully implemented tax incentives for the creative media industries (most notably B.C. and Quebec), Alberta is breaking new ground.
As WRP jobs critic, Grant Hunter, properly notes, there is no precedent for this kind of incentive in the province. Economic Development Minister, Deron Bilous, commented that most companies in the creative media production sector have less and 100 employees. This means that there is a learning curve coming and it is crucial that our community prepare itself to ensure the opportunity is not wasted.
These ambitious startups are doing excellent work, but trying to grow a company on the shadow of the Energy sector has meant languishing in a coy investment environment. Why would an investor risk money on a startup venture, when more money would likely be made on an oil & gas speculation.
What is needed?
1) Education. We need to learn from other provinces who have implemented similar incentives. We need to ensure our community of entrepreneurs and producers are prepared for how best to entice investments.
2) Transition support from the government. We can’t risk the “build it and they will come” thinking that sometimes occurs with ventures. If this is going to be a success, there must be a transparency between the startup culture and the government. Most companies in Alberta are struggling to keep going and can not afford any wasted effort on government red tape.
3) Forecasting. What happens if this incentive is successful? What happens if it isn’t? What are the precedents we are seeking to set?
Capitalists suggest that the free market should determine the course of any business. The challenge is that capitalism in Canada has always been supported through government incentives. So, while the ideal is sensible, that same ideal doesn’t exist. This is why a tax incentive for the creative media industries in Alberta are an incredible opportunity to see an increased prosperity in a young, hungry and ambitious sector.