Survey seeks input from small businesses

By Sandi Krasowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Chronicle Journal

With Small Business Week on the October horizon, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is aiming to collect information from small businesses across Canada through an online survey.

The Canadian Chamber is seeking advice and lessons learned from new and existing business owners during their entrepreneurial journey.

Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, says that they’ve been asked to share this with local members to include them in the survey.

“The information will all go into the big pot of submissions, and then they’ll pull some information that they can then use as part of their small business week advertising campaign,” Robinson said. “The information is going straight to the Canadian chamber, so we won’t know directly what local businesses have submitted. Until we see whatever they do in their campaign, we might then see something that’s highlighting a local business and we’ll find out if we make the cut that way.”

Earlier this week, The Chronicle-Journal learned from Joel DePeuter, the city’s director of development services, that there has been a significant increase in local business startups, particularly in the city’s downtown cores.

“We’re seeing similar things, whether it’s businesses that are starting from local entrepreneurs, or whether it’s businesses that are expanding to set up an office or a retail store,” she said. “Interestingly a lot of what we’re seeing are more mining-related businesses, such as engineering firms, supply and service firms or firms that are involved in labour and hiring.”

Robinson says more of those companies are starting to move into Thunder Bay because they’re recognizing that there’s a lot of potential and opportunity for their business to grow here.

“They’re expanding that as well,” she said. “It’s really quite exciting to see that the message is getting out there that Thunder Bay is poised for some significant growth should these mining operations start to move forward from the concepts to the construction and into actual operations.”

Meanwhile, the chamber has an abundance of resources for local small businesses and invites business owners to check out their list.

“There are a variety of things that are available to small businesses,” she pointed out. “The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has a new program that rewards businesses for health and safety and they can get a reduction on their WSIB premiums. The Veteran Friendly Ontario Challenge is something that the Ontario chamber is working on with them to help support the hiring of veterans as a way to address the labour shortage.”

The Talent Opportunities Program also aims to help small businesses receive wage subsidies and the Canada Small Business Financing Program, which is a federal government program, also aims to help with financing.

“We have many different resources that come across our desks where organizations offer help to small businesses,” Robinson said. “We’ve put them into a business resource page and update that regularly because new things come out each month. We want our members to be aware of that to take advantage of grants, new supports for hiring, or ways to save money in your business.”

Robinson advises business owners to visit the chamber’s online site to find a number of initiatives that can help enhance their business.

Small business resources added to their list:

  • Talent Opportunities Program.
  • Veteran Friendly Ontario Challenge.
  • WSIB Health and Safety Excellence Program.
  • Canada Small Business Financing Program.
  • Health and safety for small businesses.
  • Business Conditions Terminal.
  • Prosperity Northwest 2023 Presentations.
  • New Indigenous Business Navigator Service Available at Indigenous Services Canada.
  • The Government of Canada Announces Calls for Applications for Green Building Retrofits to Enable. Climate Action in Industries and Communities.
  • Small Business Loans — BDC.