Local business leaders joined Surrey Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux and Surrey city officials on a business walk through the historic town centre last week, dropping in at boutiques and retail outlets, from chocolatiers and medical uniform merchants to mid-century furniture stores and florists.
The Oct. 15 walk was a chance to take the pulse of the small business community, which – just like in the rest of B.C. – represents the foundation of the economy.
October is Small Business Month in B.C., and as part of the celebrations, representatives from the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement Association, the City of Surrey and the area’s representative to Victoria set out to listen to the concerns of local merchants and business owners – and identify common themes for action.
Questions were meant to keep the visits conversational, while honing in on successes and obstacles facing the local business community.
“I really enjoy talking to local business owners and hearings their concerns and suggestions,” said Cadieux, who added the provincial government has been working to reduce red tape and move toward a more business-friendly regulatory environment.
“Small business has a giant impact on our provincial economy and we want to promote prosperity and give ourselves a competitive edge.”
B.C. leads the country in small businesses per capita, with 82.6 businesses per 1,000 people. The national average is 70.9.
Small businesses represent 98 per cent of all businesses in B.C., with about 81 per cent employing fewer than five people.
From left: Ian Pallett (Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce), Kiran Kooner (Business Development Liaison, City of Surrey), Natasha Taylor (Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce), Monica Busey (Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce), Norma Brown (Cloverdale BIA), Dave Woods (Surrey City Councillor), Paul Orazietti (Cloverdale BIA), Stephanie Cadieux (MLA, Surrey-Cloverdale).
“It’s undeniable that small business is the backbone of our economy and critical to the development of a strong and vibrant city,” said Donna Jones, Surrey’s Manager of Economic Development.
“Therefore, it’s incumbent on all of us to not only understand the challenges faced by small business owners but to respond and help them with their challenges so they can focus on what they do best – business.”
A visit in person is still one of the best ways to connect with a small business, said Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, which represents more than 300 area businesses.
“Small Business Week takes on a greater meaning when an owner or manager gets a chance to speak their minds with someone from the provincial or city government and a local business association about how we all can make business better in B.C.,” he said.
Small Business Month offers opportunities for small business owners and operators to network, develop and share business ideas, and learn about government programs and resources.
Celebrations are taking place throughout B.C. for the entire month of October.
John Gibeau, president of the Cloverdale Chamber, said he’s happy to see the provincial government doing what it can to assist small businesses, and he acknowledged Cadieux for her work on behalf of the residents and businesses of Cloverdale.
– To learn more about Small Business Month, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015SBRT0011-001640