Small businesses a community lifeblood


Welcome to Business Buzz.

Twice a month Larry Horncastle, an expert in business development and former Director of Business and Tourism Development for St. Albert, will bring his expertise to the Gazette by profiling the “hidden gems” of the city’s business community or addressing the hot business issue of the day.

Business Buzz will appear every second Saturday.

So what is all the buzz about?

In recent weeks stories have appeared in news outlets about the success of small businesses as Small Business Week was celebrated in St. Albert and across Canada. So what is this all about and besides those businesses nominated, who cares about this celebration week?

We should all care. It has been recognized around the world that small business is the engine that drives the economy. It is a proven fact that small businesses, those with less than 100 employees, are responsible for creating the vast majority of new jobs, whereas most large companies are actually downsizing their employment levels.

Small business contributes to the local economy. Small business owners live in the community and support many requests to support local organizations and charities. Who sponsors the local sports teams, the many not-for-profit groups and the local arts community? Just as one example, how many local, small businesses volunteered and donated to events in St. Albert such as International Children’s Festival or the highly successful Continental Cup of curling. On most days, small business owners receive requests to support worthwhile events, and have to decide which they can contribute to, and which, although worthy of support, must be declined.

It has also been a documented fact from many North American studies that small business subsidizes the local tax base so that municipalities can provide the level of services to the residents. These studies show that the taxes collected from residential properties within any given community are not sufficient to cover the costs of services expected by these residents. On the other hand, businesses pay more in taxes than what they receive in services from the local municipalities.

In St. Albert, almost two-thirds of the workforce commutes outside the city every day for employment. When they leave for work, they also take with them their spending power, supporting businesses in close proximity to their jobs. If there were more small businesses in St. Albert, many of these workers would not face the long commute (reducing traffic volumes on the commuter roads and creating less greenhouse gas emissions) and would earn and spend their money in the local businesses, supporting new business opportunities for all residents to enjoy. Small business would be good for the environment as well as the local economy!

The business community is extremely important to the sustainability of the community, and contributes to maintaining the high quality of life for St. Albert residents. In future columns, Business Buzz will explore some of the unique and interesting businesses in our community, offer suggestions for improving our business vitality and share important information on what is happening in the local economy. It is hoped that through this series, St. Albert residents will have a greater appreciation for the local business community, and a better understanding of the expertise and skill that already exists in this wonderful city. There are many talented business leaders who are quietly ‘minding their business,’ who have achieved recognition far beyond St. Albert; yet most of us hardly know they exist. Rather than celebrate these achievements only during Small Business Week activities, Business Buzz will highlight these businesses throughout the year.

If you have a unique business, or an idea you think other business owners and residents would find interesting, please contact Business Buzz at the Gazette via email:


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