What’s not said about small biz

Good story in the TJ today quoting John Risley, head of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, about the importance of small business

It seems to me that many of us are talking about the same things just using different terms and coming at it from different angles.  When Risly talks about small business it seems to me he is talking about the kind of high growth, fire-in-the-belly entrpreneurs who want to take some innovative product or service to the world.

That is not the same thing as the guy/gal who runs a small consulting shop (ahem), is an electrician/contractor, or any of the 95%-98% of small businesses who fill small niches in their local market.

My only point all along – sorry for the endless repetition – is that those small businesses will not grow the economy long term as they are reactive to niche needs in a local market.

But if Risley sees his story as a small business/entrepreneurial story – I am in full agreement.

John Risley
Chester, N.S.
Born April 26, 1948,
in Halifax
Co-founder of Clearwater Fine Foods

1968 – After struggling with the required science courses for his arts degree, drops out of Dalhousie University.

1976 – Together with brother-in-law Colin MacDonald, starts Clearwater Fine Foods, a seafood business in Bedford, N.S.

1997 – Forms Ocean Nutrition Canada, which focuses on health supplements that get their key ingredients from the sea.

2002 – Spins off Clearwater Fine Foods’ seafood business into an income trust, with about $300 million in annual sales.

2003 – Partners with Michael Lee-Chin in Columbus Communications, a Caribbean ISP, telephone and cable TV company. 


But surely he (and you) can see the difference between the role of the mom and pop shop in a local economy (95%-98% of all small businesses) and the role of a guy who build companies with hundreds of employees and global markets?

We need to be a place where mom and pops can find and fill local niche markets with limited red tape and with competitive taxation, etc.  But if we are really interested in economic development, we need to see guys like Risley bubble up in this region.

4 thoughts on “What’s not said about small biz

  1. small business eh? lol you so funny!

    Clearwater Seafoods Income Fund Reports Agreement With Term Financing Syndicate Comprised Of GE Capital In Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, BDC and EDC
    Monday, 1 Jun 2009 08:15am EDT
    Clearwater Seafoods Income Fund announced that it has reached an agreement for a three-year $57 million term debt facility with a syndicate of lenders as part of a debt refinancing scheduled for June 8, 2009. The syndicate which includes GE Capital, is being arranged by GE Capital Markets (Canada) Ltd. and GE Capital Markets, Inc. (collectively, GECM) as co-arranger, The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Province of Nova Scotia, through the Industrial Expansion Fund.

  2. I think the point here is that this is an entrepreneur who ‘grows’ and industry. Of course we can’t discount that often a larger company is just buying up smaller companies and restricting the market.

    I wasn’t going to post on this but after seeing ‘Ocean Nutrition’ I took it as a sign. In a search on Michelin and subsidies I came across the Nova Scotia Hansards where an all party committee was ‘interviewing’ the director of the IEF. The two names that kept coming up were Ocean Nutrition and Michelin. It seems that NEITHER of these companies fall under the jurisdiction of NSBI. It appears that when the Nova Scotia government wants to do its pork barreling, it simply does so through the Industrial Expansion Fund, rather than NSBI.

    Sorry to bring this up here as it goes to payroll rebates vs. forgiveable loans. The distinction isn’t so much what is ‘politically expedient’ but rather the needs of the business. Capital intensive businesses want forgiveable loans, while payroll heavy firms like call centres want payroll rebates since they aren’t capital intensive.

    ON and Michelin were the two companies constantly mentioned, since any time they wanted cash, they went to government-not NSBI, who can’t give forgiveable loans. As the NDP critic said, its interesting that each of the years when government asks for an increase in IEF funding were also election years.

    Not completely germane I know, but just goes to show whats in other provinces Hansards, since we can’t access the NB ones. But again to the above, don’t expect David to research all that stuff, he doesn’t have any problem with government funding-thats a different website. So for useful research, in order to find out whether these payouts are worthwhile, here’s some worthwhile research.

    1. Total capital costs (building, etc)
    2. Total operating costs (local purchasing,etc.)
    3. Total payroll
    4. Provincial income tax level (how much taxes did those jobs contribute to the province).

    1. Environmental cleanup costs (potential)
    2. Total forgiveable loans

    And there would be a potential answer. Tax rebates could be added, but they are more like an ‘opportunity cost’ which is harder to gauge. Like the LNG terminal we can ask what a specific industrial development plan would have contributed IF it had done something else, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

  3. Don’t discount the small, niche operators who add directly to local spending because all of their revenue is from outside the area. These people are geographically independent and many can live anywhere they want. The money they bring in is in addition to the local economy but most of their operating and living expenses are local. Attracting a few hundred folks in this situation could be rather beneficial for the region.

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