CALGARY — The loss of the Shaw Communications Inc. headquarters in Calgary following the proposed sale of the company to Rogers Communications Inc. is part of a long-term slide in the city’s economy as oil and gas companies scale down in view of years of lower commodity prices.
But Mary Moran, CEO of Economic Development Calgary, says while the loss of a head office is disappointing, the fact the companies are retaining a Western Canada headquarters in Calgary and have promised to create more jobs in the region is heartening.
Rogers says it will invest $6.5 billion in Western Canada to build 5G networks, connect underserved rural and Indigenous communities, and add choice for customers while creating up to 3,000 net new jobs in the four western provinces.
Calgary lost nine head offices and 3,600 head office jobs between 2014 and 2019, Statistics Canada says. Over the same period, the number of head office jobs in Alberta fell by almost 5,500 positions while it rose by almost 2,800 positions in the rest of the country.
Shaw Communications has been a major part of the Alberta economy since the company was co-founded by J.R. Shaw and incorporated in Edmonton in 1966 under the name Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd.
It connected its first cable customer and went on the air for the first time in 1971, eventually moving its head office to Calgary in the mid-1990s and growing into one of the country’s largest cable providers, with radio and television broadcasting assets and a substantial wireless business.
“Our concern is, first of all, we lose a head office,” said Moran in an interview.
“We’ll gain a regional head office with Rogers’ commitment to continue to expand in here.
“They’ve talked a lot about the investment they’re going to make into the region, so $6.5 billion into the region and creating 3,000 jobs, of which we’re pretty comfortable a fair number of them will come into Calgary.”
J.R. Shaw remained active in the company to the end, serving as executive chair until his death a year ago. His son Brad Shaw is the current chief executive and executive chair.
The Shaw family has been able to retain control of the company through the Shaw Family Living Trust and its subsidiaries, which held about 79 per cent of the voting shares at the end of 2021, according to a recent regulatory filing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B)
The Canadian Press