Leduc was founded in 1899 by Robert Telford, who later gave his name to the lake. But it was the historic 1947 oil strike that put the city on the map. The discovery at Leduc No. 1 oil well was the first real sign of Alberta’s massive petroleum reserves and can largely be credited with transforming Alberta’s economy into the world-leading energy superpower it is today. The Leduc No. 1 well was decommissioned in 1974, but that has not slowed Leduc’s economic development in the least.

Leduc is home to the second largest industrial park in North America. Photo: Alberta’s Industrial RegionThe City of Leduc, Edmonton International Airport, and the nearby Nisku Industrial Park form a sort of golden triangle, which combined, make up the heart of Alberta’s International Region, an economic development area focused on bringing business to central Alberta. “The Leduc-Nisku business park is the second largest industrial park in North America, after Houston,” says City of Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke. “This area is the service, supply, and resupply hub for the oil and gas industry worldwide.”

The gateway to the world

Mayor Krischke is now confident that Leduc will continue to see prosperity for many years as an international business hub, aided particularly by proximity to such a major airport directly adjoining the business park. “Airports are the economic engines of our times,” says the Mayor. 

Adding that, just as London was originally prosperous because of its seaport, Leduc County is quickly becoming a gateway to the world. “Unlike other major airports in Canada which are already surrounded by urban development, our airport has extensive greenfields on two sides which can be developed responsibly. And the airport property itself, which is still largely undeveloped, is huge -— the biggest in Canada.”

These internationalization efforts have been key in allowing the area to continue to thrive over the last three decades. As Councillor John Schonewillie  puts it, during the 1980 turndown, you could shoot a cannon down the road. People were wondering how they were going to pay their mortgage. So we had to diversify ourselves beyond Alberta so that when one market was low, another would be busy.”

“This area is the service, supply, and resupply hub for the oil and gas industry worldwide.”

An oil town unafraid of the long view

As a result, though many in Alberta are reluctant to talk about the very long view economically, what happens when these vast oil reserves are eventually depleted, people in Leduc seem largely unconcerned.  So much of the manufacturing and technological development going on in Leduc, though it is driven by the opportunity in Alberta’s oil sands, is applicable worldwide, with more than 75 percent of the companies in the area doing business internationally. 

And, regardless of the lifetime remaining for Alberta’s reserves, the global oil industry is with us for a long time. As Councillor Schonewillie says, “you’ve got to remember, as long as we want to have iPads, as long as we want to have phones, as long as we want to wear clothes, we need the oil industry. It’s good to talk about alternative fuels, but you still have to think about plastics and other materials. Ninety percent of the things we touch in our day-to-day lives come in one way or another from oil.”

Limitless opportunity, for those willing to seize it

And the outlook for the future in Leduc goes even beyond that, says the Councilor, with a growing number of businesses in the region working in renewable energy fields such as wind power. All in all, it adds up to tremendous career opportunities for innovation minded Canadians of all skillsets. “People are always in high demand in this area,” says Councillor Schonewillie. “As long as they’re willing to work.”