Sault Ste Marie Chamber Of Commerce

Your Recognized Voice of Business in Sault Ste Marie

MEDIA RELEASE - The Success of Small Business Will Determine the Success of Ontario's Economy

The Success of Small Business Will Determine the Success of Ontario’s Economy: New Report Kicks-Off 2016 Small Business Week
October 17, 2016
Sault Ste. Marie – To mark the beginning of Small Business Week 2016, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), in partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) and Chambers from across the province, released the report Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario. The report highlights the contributions of small businesses to the provincial economy, while also identifying and offering solutions to the most pressing challenges that small business owners face.
The report’s recommendations are the result of detailed consultations over the course of six months held by 25 chambers of commerce and boards of trade with hundreds of small business owners throughout the province as part of the OCC’s Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign. The campaign revealed that the three major barriers that small businesses face are Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions, a lack of access to the workers employers need and government funding alignment on infrastructure projects.
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce CEO, Rory Ring notes that the findings of the report and the feedback from other Chambers across the province “mirrors what many of our local businesses told us when we sat down with them… Taxes, access to candidates with specific training and red tape are all weighing heavily on small businesses in our community.”
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce was one of the Chambers which took part in the consultation process with its members for this report.  The local Chamber held a series of three focus groups with owners and operators of small businesses from a broad range of sectors in June of this year.
One issue of concern identified repeatedly during local focus groups was the cost of electricity. The report confirms that this is a shared frustration among small businesses across the province. Results of an earlier OCC survey showed that 33 percent of small businesses in the province believed that increasing energy prices will have a large impact on their organization, causing them to delay or cancel investment. 38 percent of small businesses claimed that electricity prices are having the greatest impact on their ability to remain competitive.
Ring notes that he was impressed with the level of engagement that local small businesses showed during the focus group process. He notes that while discussion focused primarily on provincial-based opportunities and obstacles, discussions ultimately advanced to include local and federal concerns as well and that the feedback received will aid the Chamber in discussions with representatives at those levels as well.
The SSMCOC plans to ensure that the concerns of small business are addressed when it takes part in a “Northern Advocacy Day” at Queen’s Park with Chambers from other major Northern Ontario centres in November 2016. 
Today’s report highlights that businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario. They contribute approximately 28 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012. Given the significance of small businesses to the provincial economy, the OCC urges the government to take immediate action to implement the following three recommendations in the near term:
  1. Continue the scheduled Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions
  2. Develop a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services.
  3. Have all three levels of government commit coordinated infrastructure dollars to connect all Ontario businesses to the 21st century global economy.
“Small businesses in Ontario are being held back by a diverse set of challenges that need to be addressed by all three levels of government.” says Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “We are encouraging the provincial government to implement our report’s recommendations so that we can ensure that our economy will have sustained economic growth for many years to come.”
“In Sault Ste. Marie, local businesses are working hard to expand their operations, however they are facing some big obstacles including infrastructure deficits and the rising cost of doing business in Ontario,” says Paul Johnson, President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber. “It is critical that regional governments work with the provincial and federal governments to ensure that investments and programs are targeted to reduce operational costs and to support business growth in our region.”
The recommendations included in today’s report will feature prominently in the OCC’s work leading up to the 2018 provincial election. At that time, the advocacy organization will evaluate the political platforms of each party with a particular consideration as to how their campaign commitments align with the interests of small business owners in Ontario.
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with Northern Credit Union to expand its Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign at the local level. The campaign stresses the important role that small business plays as a source of employment and as a contributor to our local economy. More information this campaign can be found on the Chamber’s website.
Learn more about the OCC.
About the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of 700 plus business and agencies in Sault Ste. Marie and has been serving the needs of this community since 1889. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will lead the way as the voice of business, advancing economic prosperity for its membership and the business community. Learn more about the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce