Entrepreneurs in the province may be wondering what happened to the so-called Alberta Advantage.
The pain of crude’s collapse is beginning to bite in Alberta, from the oil sands boomtown of Fort McMurray to the corporate boardrooms of Calgary.
As the $340-billion petro-economy confronts an oil market meltdown, a decade-long investment spree is being reversed, layoffs and spending cuts are in full swing at companies such as Suncor Energy Inc., and everyone from oil drillers to real estate agents is feeling the pinch.
A new survey of members with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, released on Monday, shows small business owners in the province are concerned about the decline in Alberta’s business-friendly environment.
“All the talk about what tax the provincial government wants to hike puts business owners on edge. Instead of taking billions of dollars out of the economy and putting it into government coffers, let’s talk about where we can better control spending,” said Amber Ruddy, CFIB’s senior policy analyst in Alberta, in a news release.
When asked if they thought the Alberta Advantage still exists, 56% said yes but added it’s eroding; 26% said there is no longer an advantage; six per cent said it was as strong as ever; and five per cent said there never was an advantage.
As Alberta’s government prepares to release its budget in the coming weeks, 38% of small business owners said they were somewhat or very confident the government is committed to improving the climate for small business in the province but 58% said they are not very confident or not confident at all.
“Over half of small business owners in the province don’t feel confident this government is committed to creating a better business environment and that number will grow with additional taxes. The Premier and Finance Minister should think twice before weakening the Alberta Advantage. To fix Alberta’s finances the cabinet needs to get to work re-prioritizing and reining in spending,” added Ruddy.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Innovation Studies in Calgary was holding a round-table and panel discussion on Monday on the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2014 report, said the organization’s Calgary executive director Peter Josty.
Maxime Bernier, federal Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture) was in Calgary Monday to attend the event.
The report looked at what it identified as Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity which includes individuals in the process of starting a venture and those running a new business less than three-and-a-half years.
In Canada, the survey found it was 13%, down from the United States at 13.8% and Australia at 13.1%.
Last year’s report found that Alberta had the highest rate in Canada at 18.6% and the national average was 12.2% in 2013.
Josty said this year’s Alberta numbers have not been made public yet.
“It’s slightly better than last year,” he said. “We haven’t finished the analysis of the report yet.”
The Calgary Herald