Kentville Mayor David Corkum says he’s “very pleased” about a ranking that shows the town and surrounding county is the most small business-friendly community in Nova Scotia.
The ranking from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Communities in boom report, released Oct. 17, placed the town and county at 38th out of 100 communities showing the strongest signs of entrepreneurial activity. The ranking was the highest of all communities considered in Nova Scotia and was the only one to break into the top 50, placing this area well ahead of Halifax (50), New Glasgow (75), Truro (77) and Cape Breton (93).
“Any time you’re up there with Halifax or even doing a little better, it speaks volumes about the business people in our area,” Corkum said. “We all recognize that Halifax is the economic driver of Nova Scotia.”
The report uses the same area for Kentville as Statistics Canada does when it compares the town to larger cities, so it encompasses the surrounding county to up the population to 25,000.
While Corkum admits is always somewhat skeptical of the results of this type of report – “It’s difficult to be 100 per cent accurate, and it sometimes makes it seem like you’re doing better or worse than you actually are,” – he says council has been working hard to be proactive in supporting small businesses.
The steps have included setting up an economic development commission and working towards seeing the reincarnation of the Kentville Development Corporation.
Still, he admits, there are some empty storefronts along Kentville’s downtown.
“It’s a cyclical thing – businesses move in and out and sometimes you have vacant space, then it fills up again with new businesses,” he said. “Overall, I think the town holds it own. I credit the business community itself, we have a lot of long-established, strong businesses at the core of the town.”
Leanne Hachey, vice-president of the Atlantic chapter of the CFIB, says the town’s ranking is indicative of the health of small businesses in Kentville and the surrounding area.
“You guys did well,” she said. “It’s great Kentville broke into the top 50, it’s nice one municipality in Nova Scotia is doing well, but there’s always room for improvement.”
The report looks at 14 indicators to determine a community’s ranking, including policies determined by councils, presence of established businesses and the growth they exhibit and perspective, which indicates expected future growth.
It’s sometimes overlooked, she said, about the role that business and entrepreneurs play in communities: entrepreneurs build cities and cities enable entrepreneurship.
“There are a bunch of different things council can do to promote business,” she said. “Local government can focus on small businesses, understand the needs of small businesses in their community.”
That could include factors like making it easier to open a small business by cutting red tape or coming up with a 10-year small business plan.
“It should be at the top of council’s mind – a healthy community needs a healthy business sector,” Hachey added.
To read the full report, visit www.cfib.ca/ns
How they ranked
The qualifying Atlantic Canadian municipalities appeared in the following order, beginning with those most small business friendly:
St. John's NL - rank out of 100: 10; overall score out of 100 - 57
Miramichi, NB - rank out of 100: 26; overall score out of 100 - 52
Charlottetown, PEI - rank out of 100: 33; overall score out of 100 - 51
Corner Brook, NL - rank out of 100: 33; overall score out of 100 - 51
Kentville, NS - rank out of 100: 38; overall score out of 100 - 50
Fredericton, NB - rank out of 100: 40; overall score out of 100 - 50
Moncton, NB - rank out of 100: 45; overall score out of 100 - 50
Bathurst, NB - rank out of 100: 45; overall score out of 100 - 48
Halifax, NS - rank out of 100: 50; overall score out of 100 - 48
New Glasgow, NS - rank out of 100: 75; overall score out of 100 - 45
Truro, NS - rank out of 100 - 77; overall score out of 100 - 45
Saint John, NB - rank out of 100: 78; overall score out of 100 - 45
Cape Breton, NS - rank out of 100: 93; overall score out of 100 - 41