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Board of Trade celebrates Small Business Month in B.C.

October 01, 2012

Message from the President and CEO – October 2012

 Iain Black

The beginning of October marks the sixth annual Small Business Month in British Columbia – a time when the efforts of our province’s entrepreneurs are recognized, celebrated, and cast into the spotlight.

Here at The Vancouver Board of Trade, we fully understand the crucial role that small businesses play in the provincial economy. Not only do small businesses make up 70 per cent of our membership base, they also make up a staggering 98 per cent of all businesses in B.C.

In fact, a closer look at statistics released last year by the provincial government indicates that small business isn’t just a growing trend in British Columbia – it’s a way of life that has become woven into our social fabric.

According to the 2011 Small Business Profile, B.C. ranked second in Canada for the number of small businesses per capita, with 86.4 businesses per 1,000 people.

In 2010, there were nearly 400,000 small businesses operating across our province, employing more than one million British Columbians. Those jobs represented 57 per cent of all private sector jobs in the province, and were the source of one third of all wages paid to workers – the highest of any province.

The report also revealed that B.C. has among the highest number of self-employed people in Canada – perhaps no surprise to those of you reading this from your home office.

What this tells us is that B.C. is a hotbed for creativity, ingenuity, and tenacity. It’s something we should be very proud of, and, more importantly, that we must continue to foster in the years to come.

During my time as a provincial MLA, I had the honour of serving as British Columbia’s Minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development. It was a role that I feel fortunate to have held, because it allowed me to meet some of this province’s hardest working individuals.

As President and CEO of The Vancouver Board of Trade, I’m pleased to say that I’m back at the table with many of those same individuals, working alongside them to nurture this city’s small business community and help them compete locally, nationally, and even internationally. (B.C.’s small businesses shipped approximately $10.9 billion worth of merchandise overseas in 2009, representing nearly half of the total value of goods exported from this province).

However, given the economic uncertainty that persists around the globe, we can’t afford to rest on the laurels of our recent successes. For the betterment of all British Columbians, we need to ensure that our small businesses have every possible advantage.

Our organization prides itself on providing a unique level of access and education to our thousands of members. Each year we host more than 100 events, providing an intersection where small and medium-sized businesses can interact with established executives from some of Canada’s top companies.

In addition, small businesses are given a voice through the work of our 11 different policy committees. Driven by more than 400 volunteers, these committees tackle a wide range of issues and help shape government policies at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.

And, of course, there’s also the financial value of membership. After months of research, our team at The Vancouver Board of Trade has assembled the most compelling suite of member benefits of any chamber of commerce in North America.

These discounts, which are available exclusively to our members, can save small businesses thousands of dollars a year on everything from fuel purchases to business services, payment processing fees, travel and dining. (For more information, check out

Why do we do these things? Because we firmly believe that small businesses are our future – that today’s venture companies have the very real potential to become tomorrow’s leading businesses.

The Vancouver Board of Trade has been around for 125 years, and our organization has watched as many others have forged their path, building great businesses from the ground up.

This organization was there in 1945, when pharmacist Sam Bass opened a small drugstore called London Drugs. Today, that company employs 7,000 staff at 76 locations across Canada – and it’s still growing.

One year later, our organization watched as 14 Vancouverites signed a charter to establish an open-bond credit union called Vancouver City Savings Credit Union. In the six-and-a-half decades since, Vancity has grown to become Canada’s largest Credit Union, with 58 locations province-wide, serving close to half a million members.

These are only two of the many small business success stories that have come from this great city.

In the coming month, I would encourage you to join us at one of our many events geared toward small businesses. For example, on Oct. 9, our popular Business After Business Trade Show and Networking Reception returns. This semi-annual event gives our members an opportunity to promote their businesses and showcase their services while enjoying a panoramic view from the 34th floor of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

In October, we’ll also host three members’ receptions specifically intended to foster networking in a casual environment. The first, on Oct. 4, will include an evening of chocolate tasting at Purdy’s Chocolates. The second, on Oct. 10, will explore traditional Chinese arts and culture at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The third, on Oct. 24, will take place at Stages Bistro and Lounge.

Best of all, these receptions are free of charge for members of The Vancouver Board of Trade – we only ask that you reserve your tickets online.

On Oct. 16, join us as Jean-René Halde, president and CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada, shares success stories of other Canadian entrepreneurs. The following morning, join us for the latest installment of our monthly Networking Breakfast Series, where you’re guaranteed to make 30 new connections before 9 a.m.

Finally, those who do business in the United States – or those who are looking to expand into the U.S. – won’t want to miss our half-day forum Beyond the Border: Making the Action Plan work for you on Oct. 24.

Renowned business thinker Peter Drucker once wrote, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone made a courageous decision.” Those are words we take to heart at The Vancouver Board of Trade.

That’s why we’re such proud supporters of Small Business Month every October. And it’s why we’re in your corner, fighting on your behalf, the other 334 days of the year.

Iain Black is President and CEO of The Vancouver Board of Trade.

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