BMO Report: Alberta Communities are Small Business "Hotbeds"

    -  Calgary-Edmonton Corridor a national leader in Small Business growth
    -  Alberta cities dominate national Small Business Hotbed lists
    -  Calgary, Edmonton, Lloydminister, Canmore, Camrose, Okotoks, Grand
       Prairie and Brooks all make Top 10 Lists

CALGARY, Oct. 14 /CNW/ - Alberta's large and small urban communities are national "hotbeds" for small business growth and activity according to a report released today by BMO Financial Group.

From 2004 to 2009, Alberta's Calgary to Edmonton Corridor communities were among the nation's leaders in small business growth.

Alberta also boasts two leading large city "Hotbeds" as Calgary (2nd) and Edmonton (4th) placed high in Canada-wide rankings for the intensity of small business actitvity. Among Canada's leading smaller urban centres an impressive list of Alberta cities - Lloydminster, Canmore, Camrose, Okotoks, Grand Prairie and Brooks - claimed Top Ten Hotbed spots.

The province has long been among those with the highest number of small businesses per capita, because of an economic makeup that includes tourism, resources, construction and professional service firms.

These findings are part of a study, entitled Canada's Small Business Juggernaut, by BMO Financial Group's Chief Economist Dr. Sherry Cooper. The report, a post-recession perspective of this vital segment of Canada's economy, offers an optimistic prognosis for Canadian entrepreneurs. Among the report's conclusions: not only will the great majority of Canada's small businesses survive the recession, but also, as the recovery continues, many will become stronger than ever.

"Today, business understands the importance of maintaining sufficient capital to ride the cyclical bumps," said Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "There is a new appreciation for the dangers of building up too much overhead or overinvesting in every new technological system. Companies that survived the recession will have learned to be flexible, to be low-cost/high-value businesses.

Alberta businesses will be resilient, especially in the long term," said Robert Hayes, Senior Vice President, Prairies Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Compared to a year ago, when small and medium sized enterprises were in a cautious and quiet mode and had pulled back from buying new equipment or expanding their operations, they are now starting to talk to their bankers and there is a new sense of optimism from an economic and financial point of view."

Although a moderate economic recovery is underway, Dr. Cooper cautioned small businesses against settling into a comfort zone. "'Business as usual' is a concept of the past, as economic forces are subject to intense volatility and change. Whether it's expanding into unknown markets, refocusing customer bases, or jettisoning non-core businesses, successful enterprises should not be afraid to forego the familiar and embrace the risks that can lead to higher rewards. But prudent analysis of the risks and opportunities is essential."

"BMO is working hard to be there for our business customers, to ensure they have the banking solutions and advice they need to take their companies into the future," said Mr. Hayes.

BMO Economics examined the latest data to assess the intensity of small business activity in communities across Canada, by ranking the number of small business enterprises per one thousand population. This was done for large centres by looking at each of the 33 Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs), and for small centres by examining each of the 111 Canadian census agglomerations (CAs).

Looking at the 33 CMAs, growth leaders are located in three regions: Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe region (Toronto, Guelph, Oshawa, and Barrie); Alberta's Calgary-Edmonton corridor; and British Columbia's Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island (Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Victoria).

    TOP 10 CMA SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH, 2004-2009 (% change in number)

    1. Toronto, ON (15.1)           6. Kelowna, BC (8.4)
    2. Guelph, ON (13.8)            7. Calgary, AB (7.4)
    3. Abbotsford, BC (10.2)        8. Barrie, ON (6.6)
    4. Vancouver, BC (9.3)          9. Ottawa-Gatinea
    5. Oshawa, ON (9.1)             10. Victoria, BC (6.1)u, ON/QC (6.3)

    Canada's Small Business "Hotbeds" communities with the greatest intensity
of small business activity are dominated by Alberta, British Columbia and
Saskatchewan centres. Other centres include: St. John's, NL, Moncton, NB, and
Toronto, ON.

    TOP 10 CMA SMALL BUSINESS HOTBEDS (No. small businesses/1,000 pop)

    1. Kelowna, BC (39.7)           6. St. John's, NL (32.9)
    2. Calgary, AB (38.9)           7. Moncton, NB (32.4)
    3. Vancouver, BC (37.2)         8. Abbotsford, BC (32.2)
    4. Edmonton, AB (36.6)          9. Saskatoon, SK (31.9)
    5. Victoria, BC (35.0)          10. Toronto, ON (30.0)

    TOP 10 CA SMALL BUSINESS HOTBEDS (No. small businesses/1,000 pop)

    1. Fort St. John, BC (71.2)     6. Grande Prairie, AB (53.8)
    2. Lloydminster, AB/SK (69.0)   7. Brooks, AB (51.0)
    3. Canmore, AB (57.9)           8. Swift Current, SK (51.0)
    4. Camrose, AB (54.9)           9. Salmon Arm, BC (50.4)
    5. Okotoks, AB (54.1)           10. Estevan, SK (50.2)

    The complete report can be found at


For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Laurie Grant, Vancouver,, (604) 665-7596; Peter Scott, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996; Internet:

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