Small business drives our economy. Did you know that there are about 3,000 small- to medium-sized businesses here in Maple Ridge, and almost half of those are home-based?
According to Industry Canada (http://www.ic.gc.ca), 46 per cent of micro-enterprises in Canada are home-based, with the highest proportion in agriculture at 81 per cent, followed by construction at 74 per cent.
In Maple Ridge we have a long history of welcoming home-based business, so it won’t likely come as a surprise that we have about 1,500 licensed home businesses.
And, we’ve just launched a home-business project aimed at helping us better understand the needs of home-based business, so we can connect them with the tools and resources to thrive.
The chamber of commerce, Downtown Maple Ridge BIA, the local home-based business organizations, and individuals are all providing input; and we’re looking to best practices elsewhere in Canada, too.
We expect the research to be complete in April; and we’re looking forward to seeing recommendations to help grow our home-based business (HBB) sector.
If you’re a Maple Ridge home business owner and would like to participate in our confidential online HBB Insights questionnaire, just drop us an email and we’ll send you the link.
Out surviving others
Maple Ridge has a great track record for small business.
In fact, Maple Ridge businesses consistently outperform the Industry Canada three-year business survival rate, which is an average of 66 per cent, by coming in at 85 to 90 per cent – and that is year after year.
In Maple Ridge, we’re fortunate to have a solid base of great local businesses to build on, with a mix of business types and history.
Many local businesses have been doing business here for generations – while others have just started.
As our population and jobs are predicted to double to 132,000 and 48,000 respectively by 2040, businesses will play a key role.
Many of those new jobs will come from growth in existing retail and commercial companies; others will come from home businesses ready to move to a commercial location; and the final place that growth comes from is companies starting up or moving to Maple Ridge.
In each case, the business owner decides which community is the best place for their business to grow.
Creating high-value local jobs
Our goal is attracting commercial investment that will create even more high-value local jobs.
These jobs are in key sectors – advanced technology (including post production, animation and gaming; and aerospace and aviation); post-secondary education; tourism and agriculture.
We’re working with industry, post-secondary, and business organizations to ensure that they’re aware of the opportunities and advantages of locating here.
Rankings help growth
Being ranked #5 in the Top Canadian Investment City (2010 – 2015) by the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) is helping build awareness among prospective investors and business people looking for a new home for their business, their family or both.
Our quality of life, together with the relative affordability of land and ease of access to the rest of Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and three U.S. border crossings are attributes REIN researchers consider.
They also look for stable, welcoming local government, and a professional economic development office.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are ahead of thousands of other communities in Canada when it comes to investment potential.
In fact, Surrey was the only other B.C. city to even make the top 10 list.
Growth attracts retailers
One thing all businesses have in common is that they need customers.
Our residents have been vocal in their desire to see additional shopping choices. Our current town centre population, estimated at 11,000, is forecast to double to 22,000.
Retailers look for communities on the rise, often not considering a community until it has reached 75,000 population.
We’re now at 77,402; and with the new bridges, our town centre is now within a 30-minute driving commute of several hundred thousand potential shoppers.
We’re seeing the transformation of our downtown with each new business we welcome.
In addition to the big announcements of Target and Thrifty Foods last year, there are many smaller stores popping up all the time.
In fact our downtown now has more than 700 shops and services that cater to your every need.
‘Meeting’ the need
We’re working hard to attract investment in conference, meeting, hotel, and banquet facilities.
In the meantime we’d like to ask your help in identifying meeting room options available for use in our community.
If your business has meeting room space that you’d be willing to make available to other businesses, we’d like to hear from you.
Our plan is to publish a list of meeting spaces businesses can refer to; and based on usage of these existing meeting places, develop a better understanding of demand that we can share with developers.
Tapping into the resources
We’re helping connect new and existing businesses with the resources they need to thrive.
Our brochure Connecting Business: Resources to Succeed is available online at http://www.investmapleridge.ca, or you can pick up a copy at our office.
As well, the Government of BC Small Business BC is putting the finishing touches on a research report aimed at identifying business resources and opportunities across our North Fraser communities of Maple Ridge, Mission and Pitt Meadows.
Watch for information on this in the coming months.
– Sandy Blue is the manager for strategic economic development for Maple Ridge. She can be reached at email@example.com or 604-467-7319.