Letnick: The rest of Canada knows that Kelowna is business-friendly

Across the country and the rest of B.C., the Kelowna area is known for many things.

Across the country and the rest of B.C., the Kelowna area is known for many things—our incredible Okanagan summers, beautiful vineyards or to hockey fans the Kelowna Rockets.

While those are all good things to be known for, Kelowna is also making a name for itself in the business community.

Last week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) voted Kelowna the most business-friendly city in British Columbia.

CFIB’s report Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities looked at 100 Canadian cities and towns and compared them on several factors.

Using both independent data from sources like Statistics Canada as well as direct perspectives from local business owners, CFIB took into account the concentration of entrepreneurs, business start-up rate, and the general optimism and success of business owners.

And while it’s the entrepreneurs themselves who succeed or fail, there’s no question government policies also play a significant role.

As a former business owner, I know firsthand the crucial need for supportive local government tax and regulatory policies.

It’s great to see the province’s and Kelowna’s responsible fiscal policies getting some well-deserved recognition.

In case you think this is just boosterism, think again.

Entrepreneurism and overall business success are crucial for any thriving urban centre.

Small and medium enterprises employ 52 per cent of all Canadians.

Think of small and medium businesses as a form of economic insurance; recent decades have shown what can happen to single-industry towns.

This is precisely why the provincial government has been moving ahead with projects such as expanding the availability of BizPal—a single online source of information for businesses about necessary licenses and permits —and the OneStop Business Registry.

Do these make a difference for entrepreneurs? The availability of BizPal was specifically listed as a factor in CFIB’s rankings.

It’s also important to tout some of our successes to encourage young entrepreneurs and prospective business owners.

Young people could be forgiven for being discouraged by recent headlines about entire countries going bankrupt. So making sure they know Canada, and B.C. in particular, remain excellent places to establish and run a business is worthwhile.

B.C. “has a lot to be proud of,” says the CFIB, as we’ve come a long way in the past 10 years.

B.C.’s strong fundamentals—reflected in our AAA credit rating—make us a very desirable destination for business.

Why? For example, if the province needs to borrow, we can do so at significant savings.

The province currently borrows at 30 to 35 basis points lower than Ontario in the U.S. dollar market.

It doesn’t end there, either. A recent report from McKinsey & Co named Canada the “top entrepreneurial hotbed” of all G20 countries—and by a wide margin, too.

So, if Kelowna is the best city in the best province in the best country in the world, does that mean the Kelowna area is therefore the best place in the world?

I think it just possibly does.

Norm Letnick is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.





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