Thriving small businesses (and this includes not only brick and mortar establishments, but entrepreneurial service providers, agri-preneurs, solo-preneurs, and art-preneurs) are essential to a healthy economy. There is nothing small about the impact they have on the community-at-large and the spiraling up effect they generate. (Spiralling up is a process through which “the flow of assets across capitals—that is, human capital invested in a project leading to increases in the stock of assets in financial, political, cultural, and social capital—can initiate an ongoing process of assets building on assets, leading to the effect of an upward spiral. Or, ‘success builds on success.’ ”Emery and Flora, 2006)

According to Industry Canada, as of December 2011 there were almost 1.2 million small businesses in Canada making up 48.3<>percentage<> of Canada’s total workforce (or 5.1 million people). Furthermore, Canada’s small businesses contribute just over 30<>percentage<> to Canada’s GDP annually. Additionally, about 58<>percentage<> of all businesses in Canada are located in Ontario and Quebec, indicative of the strong entrepreneurial sense in these provinces. Within Quebec, the region of Laval had 34 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) per 1,000 residents in 2009, ranking 15th out of 16 regions of Quebec with micro and small businesses accounting for 86<>percentage<> of businesses in Laval.

Small businesses are key generators of growth and innovation in their local communities. They also stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations and they tend to attract the creative talent of inventors, tinkerers, and forward-thinking passionate people (ie; the entrepreneurial type!) who excel at implementing new solutions to existing ideas or problems. Larger businesses often benefit from their smaller counterparts as they can outsource any complementary services they feel are not efficient for them to provide.

Many small businesses can also adapt quickly to shifting economic climates thanks to their loyal customers who are loyal because they receive unparalleled, personalized customer-oriented service. This loyalty allows many small businesses to stay afloat during tough times, which can further strengthen local economies.

So, how do we ensure small businesses are getting the resources they need to grow? What can we do to not only help them succeed, but thrive in an ever changing economy? Providing the right climate for local businesses to succeed, including support and networking resources, access to capital, and mentors can be invaluable.

The good news is there are programs, resources, tools, and support organizations right in your community to help your business grow into sustainable and successful entities.

The Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC) offers personalized business-development services to the English-speaking and broader community through the CEDEC Small Business Support Network (SBSN). Business support is offered through networking opportunities, skills and capacity building workshops, conferences, and strategic partnerships – all with the end goal of empowering entrepreneurs, prospective employees, and potential stakeholders with information, expert input, and other resources indispensable in the development and sustainability of new wealth-generating opportunities.

To learn more about CEDEC Small Business Support Network and how it can help your business succeed, please visit or call Jerusalem Girma at (514) 903-3753.

This article previously appeared in The Gleaner, Sept. 3, 2012 edition.