Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
When Medicine Hat mayor Ted Clugston got word that one of Canada’s largest licensed cannabis producers, Aurora, was moving to town in 2018, he felt a little nervous. The Hat, a city of about 63,000, is one of the most politically conservative towns in Canada and it has the oldest demographic in Alberta.
But like most of the province, Gas Town was reeling from the downturn in oil, so Clugston was looking for ways to diversify the local economy. And cannabis, just a few months away from being legalized, was being celebrated as a largely untapped economic force. A trend was emerging that the cannabis industry could save sputtering Canadian towns that had previously relied on manufacturing jobs and natural resource-driven economies.
“We welcomed them. We courted them. We got on our hands and knees and begged them, frankly, to choose Medicine Hat,” Clugston tells The GrowthOp. “They could have gone anywhere in Canada.”