Mayor Rick Bonnett speaks on small business growth and opportunities in Ponoka

Oct. 20 to 26 is Small Business Week

Small Business Week is Oct. 20 to 26 and Town of Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett had a message for small business owners during Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce’s monthly lunch meeting on Oct. 15.

“As we all know, small businesses drive the engine of the Canadian economy,” said Bonnett.

According to 2018 statistics, 95 per cent of all Canadian business is small, or employs 8.3 million people (or 69.7 per cent of the labour force) throughout Canada.

Small businesses are classified as having one to 99 employees.

“It is definitely our biggest driving force … Everybody in this room deserves a big hand for everything that they do in our community and in this country.”

From 2014 to 2018, 640,000 jobs were created by small business in Canada.

“What Canada needs is more small business and small business makes a much better and stronger Canadian economy and communities.”

Small businesses account for one in four employees in Canada.

In Ponoka, there are currently 463 small businesses.

One of the greatest opportunities that small businesses in Ponoka need to capitalize more on are the visitors that are brought into town by the Ponoka Stampede and events at the Calnash Ag Event Centre, says Bonnett.

“We’re sitting on a gold mine here … we do need to find ways to infiltrate that on a much larger scale.”

Bonnett says that according to a conversation he had with a Minister of Agriculture, Ponoka just missed the top 10 list for agricultural tourism in Alberta last year, and that within three to five years, with the addition the centre has made with its new cattle pavilion, it’s expected Ponoka could make the top five on that list.

“We as small business need to find a way to get in there and bring people down to our businesses,” said Bonnett.

“That is something we really ought to start focusing on as a chamber and as a town. I challenge all of you to come up with some ideas.”

The ag centre is busy for about 46 weeks of the year, hosting up to 1200 people for some events.

Another area of growth for the town has been in the industrial park.

Bonnett says there’s been a lot of building in the area in the past year which has been “fantastic.”

In fact, there has been over $10 million worth of industrial growth in new businesses in the park.

The mayor says the town is aware of concerns of industrial land running out and the town would like to develop incentives to promote investment in expanded road work out to the highways.

Bonnett congratulated all the nominees for the 2019 Ponoka chamber business awards.

“Everybody in this room is a winner whether you win or had your name put forward.”

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