Opinion

Clark: Supporting small business a key to economic growth

Chances are, you know someone who owns or depends on small business. Someone who believed in themselves, and who put it all on the line to realize their dream and be their own boss.

The chances of that are good because B.C. is positively teeming with small business. It represents 98 per cent of all business.

They have a huge impact even beyond our borders, driving over half of our total exports.

Perhaps most significantly, small business employs more than one million British Columbians.

In a province with a total labour force of just under 2.5 million, that’s a huge number.

As we continue to build a strong economy that creates jobs, supporting small business will continue to be crucial.

That’s why we promised to find ways to help small business however we can.

We’ve had successes. B.C.’s small-business corporate income tax rate is among the lowest in Canada.

Through the small business venture capital program, we created $152 million in tax credits to encourage angel investors to support higher-risk startups.

We’re helping microbusiness with training programs they might not otherwise be able to afford.

And B.C. still boats the country’s only “A” grade for cutting red tape from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

But we can and will do more. When we announced the consultation process to create the Small Business Accord in 2012, we asked small business what we could do as a government to help.

More than 35,000 individuals provided feedback through community meetings, an online survey, and Twitter town halls.

One particular suggestion we heard more than once was making it easier for small business to sell to government.

For example, RFPs for government services were long and complicated—on average, around 18 pages, but sometimes upwards of 80 —probably confirming a lot of people’s suspicions about governments along the way.

At best, this was time-consuming. At worst, it effectively barred small business from competing; they simply don’t have the people power to slog through long and complex documentation.

We promised to find a way to even the playing field. And on Monday, we took a major step forward.

B.C. Minister of State for Small Business Naomi Yamamoto officially launched the provincial government’s two-page short-form request for proposals under $250,000.

It will be a smart form —a fillable online PDF that provides consistency for bidders and ministries alike.

The simplified two page form delivers on a BC Small Business Accord commitment to reduce barriers to government’s procurement process, while also streamlining government processes and templates.

For small business, doing business with the provincial government should be as profitable and pain-free as possible.

It should be another step towards realizing their dream of running their own successful business, one their family can depend on.

After this week, hopefully it will be.

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