Author: Trevor McPherson, President & CEO, Mississauga of Board of Trade
In the hustle and bustle of Mississauga, where multinational corporations often steal the spotlight, it is easy to overlook the quiet heroes of our economy – small businesses. These enterprises, often startups or family-run ventures, form the lifeblood of our community, playing a pivotal role in driving economic growth not just in Mississauga but across Ontario and Canada. As the President and CEO of the Mississauga Board of Trade, I want to shine a light on the economic importance of small businesses and why they deserve our unwavering support.
Small businesses are not just the backbone; they are the heart of the Canadian economy. According to Statistics Canada, as of December 2021, nearly 98% of businesses in Canada are categorized as small, employing 67.7% of the private labour force. These enterprises contributed 36.7% to the GDP generated by the private sector in 2019. However, an impending challenge looms in the form of a retirement wave among small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners, with 75% expected to retire in the next decade. Succession planning has never been more crucial.
To address these challenges and support small businesses, the Mississauga Board of Trade and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have called on the federal government to implement measures like extending the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan repayment deadline and modernizing the tax system. Regulatory modernization, alignment, and increased support for research and development are also essential steps in fostering small business growth.
Ontario, too, benefits immensely from its small businesses, which employ approximately 2.3 million Ontarians. The provincial government plays a crucial role in creating a favourable environment for small businesses to thrive. This includes reskilling the workforce, maintaining competitive tax rates, reducing red tape, and promoting investments in innovation and sustainability. The continuation of programs like Ontario’s Skills Development Fund remains vital to this success.
With both the federal and provincial ministers of Small Business coming from Mississauga-Streetsville, there is a unique opportunity for increased collaboration to support small businesses in Ontario and Canada. Ensuring small businesses have fair opportunities to bid on provincial procurement contracts will further strengthen their ability to compete in international markets.
Mississauga, with its rich cultural diversity, educational institutions, and initiatives like the IDEA Mississauga Innovation District, is a haven for small businesses. Each year, the Mississauga Board of Trade celebrates the remarkable achievements of these businesses at our Business Awards of Excellence. Their stories of success inspire us, as they underscore the incredible potential of entrepreneurship in our city.
In conclusion, small businesses are not just too big to ignore; they are too important to underestimate. They are the unsung heroes of our economy, creating jobs, driving innovation, and contributing significantly to our GDP. To ensure their continued success, we must collectively support them through sound public policy, reduced red tape, and a culture that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship.
As President and CEO of the Mississauga Board of Trade, I stand alongside our small business members in providing resources, support, and advocacy for the economic and regulatory conditions needed to boost their growth potential and long-term sustainability. Together, we can ensure that small businesses continue to thrive, not just in Mississauga, but throughout Ontario and across Canada. Small businesses are not just the lifeblood of our economy; they are the heartbeat of our community.