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'Creative class' leaves Ottawa in good shape for future: Expert

The economic outlook for Ottawa in 2010 and the new decade is bright, an expert said.

The economic outlook for Ottawa in 2010 and the new decade is bright, an expert said.

“I think Ottawa will continue to be an affluent city,” said Ian Lee, MBA director of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University.

Lee believes the economic stability imparted by the presence of the federal government — which employs 25 per cent of Ottawa’s population and does not downsize in times of recession — protects Ottawa from the economic extremes experienced in cities like Toronto and Calgary.

Ottawa also has the advantage of being home to what Lee calls “the creative class” — industries such as high tech, biotech, and financial services, which have not suffered from the impact of the recession like the manufacturing sector.

Ottawa’s economy is bolstered by the highest average level of education in Canada, cheaper costs of living than other major cities, a low crime rate, and excellent transportation links to the U.S. and the rest of the country, Lee said. It is these accumulated advantages that make Ottawa “an economy that is well positioned for the future,” said Lee.

Lee says the biggest threat to the Canadian economy in the coming decade is climate-change legislation. The Canadian economy is especially dependent on fossil fuels, both to heat homes and to transport goods and people.

“Anyone who thinks (climate-change legislation) is going to be painless is delusional,” Lee said. “It’s going to fall disproportionately on us in Canada.”

But Lee is confident Ottawa will weather the storm.

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