Small businesses help define our communities

By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady

Small businesses are the economic engines of our Ontario communities and help define, in our case, our rural way of life.

When out and about at events in the riding, I usually make a point of trying to stop into a small business or two, talk to the owners and make a purchase. With Christmas around the corner, I plan to patronize local businesses as much as possible for gifts for friends and family.

Small Business Week was Oct. 15-21 and the theme for this year’s Ontario Chamber of Commerce campaign was Small Business, Big Ideas. The campaign underscores the impact and potential of small business innovation and the importance of supporting businesses beyond recovery and towards growth.

Each year, Small Business Week celebrates the big ideas that contribute to our communities but also draws attention to the challenges that inhibit growth and innovation of small business. Our local chambers are the indispensable partner of business in our community, and they champion the needs of small business across the province. Locally, we have some very active boards of trade, BIAs and chambers.

Without our volunteers and small businesses, our rural smaller communities would struggle and perhaps be shuttered. If our small businesses disappeared, they would take with them over 60 per cent of the jobs and almost 40 per cent contribution toward the Canadian GDP.

The contribution of small businesses to the Canadian economy is illustrated by Statistics Canada data from 2021 that showed micro or small businesses were 98.1 per cent of the employers in Canada. These businesses employed 10.3 million Canadians, or 63.8 per cent of the total workforce. As a comparison, medium-sized businesses provided 21.1 per cent of the jobs and large business employed 15.1 per cent of the workforce.

Not surprisingly, given its population, Ontario had the greatest number of small local businesses in Canada, but what is surprising is more than half the small local businesses in the country are in this province.

Aside from contributions to our general economic well-being, small business owners also contribute to growth and vitality in specific areas of economic development by creating jobs, sparking innovation, and providing opportunities for many people who are then able to achieve financial success and independence.

Those of us who have children playing sports see the names of small businesses on the jerseys of hockey, baseball, and soccer players. Without this support, the leagues either wouldn’t be able to function or the costs per player would be considerably higher. We shouldn’t take this monetary support for granted and should repay it by shopping local.

The investment by small business goes beyond sponsoring sports leagues. Pick any festival in Haldimand-Norfolk and there is sponsorship and involvement from local business.

For those who look to the environment when making their buying decisions, purchasing from a local business has a smaller carbon footprint than shipping a parcel from a warehouse to your door.

Not all is rosy for small business though. A recent Angus Reid survey found one-third of small businesses are struggling more now when compared to pre- pandemic. Inflation and labour shortages were blamed for cutting into their bottom lines.

With Christmas right around the corner, I encourage you to support local and receive hometown service.

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk.