Celebrating small businesses in B.C. as they continue to shine

It’s time to celebrate Small Business Week (Oct. 20-26, 2019) and to recognize the tremendous contributions small businesses make to their local communities and B.C.’s economy.

It’s time to celebrate Small Business Week (Oct. 20-26, 2019) and to recognize the tremendous contributions small businesses make to their local communities and B.C.’s economy.

Small businesses are the heart of B.C.’s communities and the backbone of the province’s economy. Over half a million small businesses, employing almost 1.1 million people, are operating in the province.

British Columbia’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in Canada, showing B.C. has a resilient economy and a strong workforce – thanks, in large part, to small businesses.

The 2019 Small Business Profile, released this week, confirms that small businesses contribute significantly to the economy by creating and maintaining good jobs in communities throughout the province. The annual profile publishes key statistics on the health and contributions of B.C.’s small business sector and shares the stories of some of the successful entrepreneurs behind the numbers.

One small business highlighted in the profile is owned by Kory Wood. In a spare room in an old house he was renting, in 2013, Wood founded a maintenance and construction company that would later be known as Kikinaw Energy Services. Now the Saulteau First Nations member-owned company supports the wind energy, oil and gas, and utility sectors in a 279 square-metre (3,000 square-foot) building. Kikinaw Energy Services has operations across Canada, recently opened a Calgary office and has plans to enter the U.S. market.

“Don’t walk alone – surround yourself with good people who genuinely want what’s best for you,” said Wood. He and his company won the BC Indigenous Business Award for Outstanding Business Achievement in 2018.

Mary-Anne Bowcott is also showcased in the 2019 Small Business Profile. Fifteen years ago, it was highly unusual to see women working in trades and on job sites, but that’s where Bowcott wanted to work. She had a difficult time landing her first job. “I probably handed out 100 resumes and didn’t get a single call back,” said Bowcott. Eventually a friend’s uncle hired her as a roofer. She loved working in the trades and decided to become a plumber. Once certified, Bowcott was inspired by local businesswomen to start her own company, even though she worried that people might not hire her.

“It turned out that I didn’t need to worry. People are excited to see someone unconventional making it in my industry,” Bowcott said. In March, Bowcott was awarded the Canadian Construction Association’s 2018 Person of the Year.

Small Business Week is a great time to acknowledge your community’s success stories. Over the course of the year, the achievements of small businesses and their communities are highlighted through two awards.

The Small Business BC Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of B.C.’s small business entrepreneurs in categories such as Best Employer, Best Immigrant Entrepreneur and the Premier’s People’s Choice Award. Award winners receive one-year, all-access passes to Small Business BC services and a cash prize of $1,500.

The Open for Business Awards recognize communities that have adopted best practices to create a business-friendly environment. This is an excellent way to acknowledge the vital role of community support in the success of small businesses. Nominations for both awards close Nov. 30, 2019.

Small Business Week and these awards are opportunities to celebrate the small businesses and communities that help promote economic prosperity for all British Columbians.

Quick Facts:

  • Small Business BC is the premier resource centre for comprehensive business information, products and services in the province.
  • In 2018, 15,600 new businesses were established in British Columbia.
  • For the past five years, B.C. has held the top spot among provinces in small business job growth at 7.7%.
  • B.C. leads all other provinces in gross domestic product (GDP) generated by small business, at 34% of overall provincial GDP.
  • 85% of international exporters in B.C. are small businesses, responsible for $15.8 billion in exports, or 32% of total provincial exports.

Pictures: BC Small Business Awards and Minister Bruce Ralston at a small business in Surrey