BMO Report: British Columbia Communities are Small Business "Hotbeds"

    -   Lower Mainland & southern Vancouver Island national leaders in Small
        Business Growth
    -   Kelowna and Fort St. John rank first for intensity of Small Business
        activity in Canada's large and small urban centres
    -   Vancouver, Victoria, Abbotsford and Salmon Arm also rank in Top 10s

VANCOUVER, Oct. 14 /CNW/ - British Columbia'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, British Columbia's Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island communities were national leaders in small business growth.

British Columbia also boasts two first place "Hotbed" finishes as Kelowna and Fort St. John lead Canada-wide rankings for the intensity of small business activity in larger and small urban centres. Vancouver, Victoria, Abbotsford and Salmon Arm also claimed Top 10 spots in the report.

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. British Columbia also has the advantages of the preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and strength in transportation services to facilitate growing trade with Asia.

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.

"This report confirms what we're seeing. This has been a challenging year, but we see surprising resilience and emerging confidence from our small business customers," said Derral Moriyama, Senior Vice-President, Commercial Banking, Greater Vancouver Area, BMO Bank of Montreal.

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. Moriyama.

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-Gatineau, ON/QC (6.3)
    5. Oshawa, ON (9.1)                10. Victoria, BC (6.1)

    Canada's Small Business "Hotbeds" communities with the greatest intensity
of small business activity are dominated by British Columbia, Alberta 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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