This is an adaptation from a Human Geography course on economic geography that I took at the University of Alberta. I presented a poster on this research at the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers. The assignment was designed to help us discover how transnational corporations were shaping the city.
One company that is transforming the urban economy in Edmonton is Transcend Coffee. Transcend is a small batch coffee roaster with several locations throughout the city. Transcend exhibits a distinct production network, alternative to the larger coffee shop chains such as Tim Hortons or even speciality chains such as Second Cup or Starbucks. They want to create a closer connection between the growers and consumers by documenting their trips to the coffee plantations on their blog and podcast. This close degree of connection is what scholars call embeddedness.
There are several firms that have a deep connection with consumers. Google instantly comes to mind. In the area of speciality coffee, could be Starbucks or Tim Hortons depending on what side of Canada you happen to be on. Alternatively, firms such as Transcend, albeit small, are still actively searching for localized assets and will incorporate them as a matter of choice.
To highlight the pervasiveness that Starbucks has in the realm of specialty coffee, Poul Mark, the owner of Transcend stated that, “this was all that I drank (holding up a Starbucks cup), I thought I was the biggest coffee snob there was and if you didn;t drink Starbucks you just weren’t cool.” (Transcend Podcast Ep. 1).
One of the explicit goals of Transcend is to change the consumption practices within Edmonton by increasing the knowledge of coffee through a deeper connection to their consumers cia tastings, twitter, their blog and Podcasts. They have brought growers to Edmonton to not only show them Transcend’s operations but to allow for a closer connection between growers and consumers at special events.
But Transcend is not the only company changing the urban economy of Edmonton. Entire areas are changing. Whyte Ave is changing with the opening of the new Roots Building on the east side of the tracks. The new Downtown Arena will dramatically change the composition of that area and the economy.