By Alan Johnson
We start off this month with some very good news. Colchester's building permits have risen by 23 per cent over the same period last year. Better yet, the value of those building permits is up by an impressive $7 million.
Stewiacke has also posted a rise in permits, with a 6.2 per cent increase in building construction so far this year. And in Truro, the number of commercial building permits is up by 36 per cent since April.
That's a major plus for our tradespeople, who list themselves as small business people, (defined in Canada as businesses with fewer than 499 employees) as well as the businesses people who supply them with materials.
Family businesses really are the backbone of the Truro-Colchester region.
Each fall, we salute our entrepreneurs by celebrating Small Business Week. But this year, it seemed to have even more meaning when organizers came up with Small Business Day. On that Saturday, people across Nova Scotia were encouraged to go out and visit small businesses, making themselves familiar with their products.
The fact is small businesses create 41 per cent of the new jobs in Atlantic Canada. These men and women are either physically in their businesses or planning for the continued well-being of the business seven days a week. It's not an easy task and we need to keep supporting them by shopping here at home.
Fortunately, the towns of Truro and Stewiacke, along with the County of Colchester already help out in a major way, thanks to streamlined permit and regulation information.
They do this by using website software known as BizPal, which helps new entrepreneurs find out exactly what they require when it comes to questions about which permits and licenses are needed to operate. They're available in a single stop on the Colchester County, Town of Truro and Town of Stewiacke websites.
The other good news for local businesses in our area is that our councillors, MLAs and our MP are readily accessible when it comes to small business start-ups.
Here at CoRDA, we also meet regularly with potential entrepreneurs to guide them through business planning, budgeting and a host of other small business issues.
A recent survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business scored Truro fairly low when they asked about how "business friendly" this region is to entrepreneurs.
According to the survey, part of that was attributed to municipal business connections. But I don't know of a single local politician who wouldn't be more than happy to pitch in to help a small business get established with the right answers, connections and planning. More often than not, these political leaders refer these questions and the people asking them to CoRDA, and we welcome them with open arms.
Surveys will come and go, but the proof is in the pudding. The number of entrepreneurs from outside Truro-Colchester who have contacted CoRDA about expanding to this region is double last year's total.
Couple that with the number of new businesses who've set up here lately and rising building permits, and things are going very much in the right direction. Witness half a dozen new businesses in the former Margolians building, and two that have just recently opened in the former Walker's Hardware building. (Congratulations to Reigning Western Wear and Tack, as well as the new T-Shirt store next door.)
Yes, headlines can try to steer us off course, but we're still setting up new businesses both large and small. And with the number of new business clients coming into CoRDA each week, that growth can only get stronger.
TAGLINE: Alan Johnson is director of marketing and communications for the Colchester Regional Development Association. His column appears in this space each month. He can be reached using firstname.lastname@example.org.