Archived — Small Business Month 2012 Op-Ed
By the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

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Small business: It's been called the engine that drives the Canadian economy. In Canada, 98 per cent of all businesses are considered "small," that is, employing fewer than 100 people. Yet the contribution these businesses make to our economy is enormous, accounting for roughly 30 per cent of Canada's GDP and almost half of our private sector employment.

Here in southern Ontario, small businesses are just as essential to our economy and our people. They have a long and proud history of creating opportunities for our region, and they play an important role in helping our economy through difficult times.

Economic Action Plan 2012 outlined a number of measures to support small business, including the recently announced Red Tape Reduction Action Plan aimed at cutting unnecessary red tape to save entrepreneurs time and money, a commitment to extend the temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage new hires, and opening up new markets for Canadian businesses around the world.

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) was created through Canada's Economic Action Plan in 2009 to support growth and diversify the southern Ontario economy. Since that time, our government has taken significant steps to help ensure small businesses in southern Ontario and across Canada can succeed in the future.

We know that accessing risk capital is a key concern for our entrepreneurs. Our work with southern Ontario's angel investment networks has increased the number of active angel investors in southern Ontario, from 250 three years ago to more than 650 today. There are now more people looking to invest more money in the ideas and products of our region's small businesses.

We also know that many small businesses lack the resources to conduct their own R&D. Our investments are supporting close to 550 partnerships between small businesses and post-secondary institutions in our region, giving students in applied research and engineering programs a chance to gain real world expertise, while allowing businesses to tap into the students' R&D capacity. This is a situation where everyone wins.

Our government is looking to the future of small business. From new techniques for the aerospace and manufacturing sectors in Windsor, to the development of green automotive technologies at McMaster University in Hamilton, to innovative new horticultural techniques in the Niagara region, and advancements in software at IT companies in Ottawa, we are investing in the people and ideas that will bring greater economic prosperity to southern Ontario.

These are the types of measures that ensure government isn't a burden for small businesses, but a partner in helping them succeed and grow. The Harper Government will continue to encourage excellence in southern Ontario's small businesses. They are the businesses that have made our region what it is today, and they are the businesses that will determine our success in the future as we work to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and ensure long-term prosperity for our people and our communities.

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