Expanding workforce travel firm gets $3M from Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund

© Zoom LodgeLink CEO Trevor Haynes says his company has been able to keep operating and even expand during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

A Calgary company is getting $3 million in public money to help it create up to 600 new jobs in the city.

The funds will come from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF), which was created by city council in 2017 with an endowment of $100 million to attract companies and jobs to the city. 

LodgeLink, which is an online business platform that provides travel services to companies with large numbers of employees, will use the money to fund 300 new tech jobs  as part of an eventual 600-employee expansion over the next five years.

The company’s CEO, Trevor Haynes, says although the pandemic has hurt business travel this year, they’ve already noticed a rebound.

“We were able to keep our employees and focus on product development and repositioning with customers and suppliers, and we’ve begun hiring again as we moved into the fall and we’ve got a reasonably strong hiring plan for 2021,” he said.

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Haynes said it was discussions with people at OCIF that helped his team and the parent company, Black Diamond, re-evaluate their earlier assumption that their tech-talent needs for growing LodgeLink would necessitate setting up in another city.

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“So my team and myself started looking at it, saying, ‘could we do this here, can we bring the talent and do we think we’ll be able to create a pool of talent within the city that could support a fast-growing company,” he said.

He said Benevity and Solium are two other up-and-coming tech firms that are proving it can be done in Calgary. 

Haynes said his company plans to work with educational institutions in Calgary to recruit new tech talent and people who are looking to re-skill.

LodgeLink will lease 50,000 square feet of empty office space in Eau Claire for its expansion.

OCIF has signed 14 funding agreements over the past two years worth $42 million of funding agreements since its inception.

That has in turn attracted spending commitments exceeding $600 million to Calgary, says CEO Mary Moran, who is also head of Calgary Economic Development.

“That’s a 15-to-1 ratio and an example of how we are leveraging Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund to attract more investment and create a stronger, more diverse economy in Calgary,” she said.