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Backbone of our economy

Posted on October 30, 2013 by Lethbridge Sun Times

Small businesses make up the backbone of the Canadian economy.

They employ thousands upon thousands of people in our communities, help make for vibrant downtowns, thriving industrial sectors and viable commercial districts throughout southern Alberta.

Last Tuesday morning, just a few of those businesses within the city were recognized at the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and Business Development Bank of Canada Business of the Year Awards.

It was an impressive display of business excellence and highlighted just a few of the dedicated individuals involved in the city’s business scene, individuals who certainly proved deserving of the accolades they received.

In Lethbridge, the small business community is certainly diverse and growing. That is also the situation throughout most of the province, as the 2013 Small Business, Big Impact: Alberta Small Business Profile, indicates the number of small businesses has jumped 3.2 per cent in the province over 2012. Between 2002-12, the number of small businesses in Alberta increased by 12.7 per cent, the second-highest growth rate in Canada, compared to the national average of 6.1 per cent.

A global economic slowdown, coupled with a recent recession in Alberta and other factors like a strong Canadian dollar, fluctuating resource prices and falling demands for exports, would be enough to make any small business owner have more than a few sleepless nights, but as the numbers indicate, Alberta’s business leaders are persevering.

No doubt, starting a small business, or expanding existing operations, are ventures not for the faint of heart. Courage, conviction, hard work and dedication are the ingredients small business owners have relied upon for success for decades in southern Alberta. That entrepreneurial spirit exists in this province, perhaps like no other area in Canada, as the business profile revealed Alberta has the highest number of small businesses per capita in the country.

The business profile also indicated small businesses were responsible for 35 per cent of all employment in Alberta within the private sector and also made up 95 per cent of all businesses in the province. That number totalled 147,702 in 2012. In 2011, small businesses in Alberta generated more GDP per capita than almost any other Canadian province at $21,102, and far exceeded the national average of $13,799.

With all of these figures in mind, it is easy to see Alberta as a small business success story. However, that story will only continue to have happy endings if these businesses continue to receive support. Lethbridge, like other similar-sized cities, is only as good as its business community, a business community which relies on local support for its success.

An editorial from the Lethbridge Herald

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