Build­ing on mo­men­tum

P.E.I.’s small busi­nesses helped con­tribute to eco­nomic suc­cess with GDP growth reach­ing dou­ble dig­its

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY JEN­NIFER EVANS AND PENNY WALSH-MCGUIRE GUEST OPIN­ION . Jen­nifer Evans is 2018-19 board pres­i­dent, and Penny Walsh-McGuire is CEO, Greater Char­lot­te­town Area Cham­ber of Com­merce. (GCACC rep­re­sents a di­verse net­work of close to 1000 busi­nesses shar­ing a

It’s Small Busi­ness Week 2018, an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of en­trepreneur­ship in our com­mu­nity and across the coun­try. It’s also a chance to hon­our the sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tions of small busi­ness to our province. At the Greater Char­lot­te­town Area Cham­ber of Com­merce, we be­lieve that small busi­ness means big busi­ness in P.E.I. and here’s why:

P.E.I. is home to close to 6,000 small busi­nesses - the sec­ond high­est num­ber per capita of all Cana­dian prov­inces, sec­ond only to Al­berta.

Small busi­nesses em­ploy 38,000 peo­ple or one in ev­ery four Is­landers (50 per cent of the work­ing pop­u­la­tion).

Small busi­nesses ac­count for 93 per cent of pri­vate-sec­tor em­ploy­ment in our province.

P.E.I.’s small busi­nesses have helped con­tribute to Is­land’s eco­nomic suc­cess with nom­i­nal GDP growth reach­ing dou­ble dig­its in the past five years – more than other Mar­itime prov­inces. We’ve had record-break­ing em­ploy­ment growth with an un­em­ploy­ment rate now be­low 10 per cent and P.E.I. ex­pe­ri­enced av­er­age hourly wage growth that is among the high­est in Canada year to date.

The mo­men­tum P.E.I. has seen over the last num­ber of years is a re­sult of the hard-work and ded­i­ca­tion of en­trepreneurs who are driven to suc­ceed. This aligned with busi­ness-friendly pub­lic pol­icy, con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in strate­gic in­fras­truc­ture and sup­port from govern­ment at all lev­els will help grow busi­ness con­fi­dence into the fu­ture.

So how do we con­tinue to build on this mo­men­tum to en­sure con­tin­ued eco­nomic pros­per­ity? There are a cou­ple key ar­eas for us to con­sider:

Work­force Devel­op­ment – Our cur­rent work­force de­mo­graph­ics are ag­ing and this has a di­rect im­pact on the labour mar­ket and our lo­cal econ­omy. At­tract­ing new tal­ent through im­mi­gra­tion and re­tain­ing our youth is crit­i­cal for busi­nesses to ad­dress cur­rent and fu­ture labour needs. Gen­er­a­tion Z, the largest gen­er­a­tion in his­tory, will soon be en­ter­ing the work­force. We need to en­sure they are well pre­pared with the right skills to be pos­i­tive con­trib­u­tors to the labour mar­ket.

Com­pet­i­tive­ness - Busi­nesses who have a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in­crease their like­li­hood of suc­cess. When it comes to re­cruit­ing new busi­nesses to the province or en­cour­ag­ing en­trepreneur­ship within the province, the same prin­ci­ple ap­plies. P.E.I. can at­tract more busi­nesses and in­crease eco­nomic growth by im­prov­ing its own com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

The Cham­ber con­tin­ues to lobby govern­ment to lower small busi­ness and cor­po­rate tax rates (which are among the high­est in the coun­try). Mak­ing it eas­ier for an en­tre­pre­neur to start and grow their busi­ness trans­lates into more tax rev­enue, busi­ness at­trac­tion and ex­pan­sion, higher wages and more jobs.

So, this week and ev­ery week, con­sider small busi­ness and the con­tri­bu­tion they make to our province. Small busi­nesses do­nate to lo­cal sports teams and char­i­ties, they em­ploy our fam­ily and friends, and they work hard to build our econ­omy. They give back, they take risks and they in­spire a new gen­er­a­tion of en­trepreneurs. Small busi­nesses start small but think big - let’s cel­e­brate, sup­port and en­cour­age them in their work.

Evans

Walsh-McGuire

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