Each year, the third week of October is designated Small Business Week across Canada.
The Business Development Bank of Canada launched this initiative in 1979 to celebrate small business in Canada and the contribution small businesses make to the Canadian economy.
Today Small Business Week is still led by BDC, but now involves local chambers of commerce and other business support organizations throughout the country.
This year Small Business Week takes place from Oct. 14 to 20. This is the perfect time to focus on the contributions of small businesses to our local, provincial and national economy.
Small businesses are often touted as the backbone of Canada’s economy, but what exactly is a small business and how much do they really contribute to our economy?
Information from Industry Canada and Statistics Canada indicate that there are two categories of small business in Canada – those that employ one to four people and are known as micro businesses and those that employ up to 20 people which are defined as small businesses.
In Canada 98 per cent of businesses qualify as small businesses and more than five million Canadians or 48 per cent of the workforce work for them.
In our own province, 98 per cent of B.C. businesses are also defined as small businesses and 82 per cent of our small businesses fall into the micro-business category.
This represents almost 392,000 businesses employing more than one million B.C. residents or 46 per cent of our total workforce.
Small businesses in BC account for 30 per cent of the province’s GDP, well above the national average of 27 per cent. B.C. Stats indicate that B.C. and Saskatchewan are tied for the highest ratio in the country.
Glowing statistics give us a much deserved opportunity to pat ourselves on the back, but what do those statistics mean here at home? We know that here in Summerland, small businesses create and maintain employment, drive innovation, meet payrolls that support our families, and stimulate new economic activity.
Of working Summerlanders, fully half of us work right here in town.
And of our working high school students, it’s probably safe to say that close to 100 per cent of them work locally for a small business. So those same small businesses are also teaching the next generation the importance of hard work, good service and integrity.
So, while we recognize the challenges of the past few years and the challenges that may lie ahead, I firmly believe that Summerland businesses are up to the task of reinventing and growing their businesses. And when you see a small business owner this month and when you shop in a local store, say an extra thanks to the small business person you are meeting.
They are keeping our town, our province and our country alive.
We always appreciate your feedback. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christine Petkau at email@example.com.
Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism and the owner of Edgy Petals. All of the members of The Board of Directors serve as volunteers.