The St. Albert Chamber of Commerce isn’t buying a recent report indicating that small business owners in Alberta are less confident in the performance of their business in the near future, especially when it comes to St. Albert.
“I don’t believe the business climate [in St. Albert] is anything but positive and future-looking,” said chamber president and CEO Lynda Moffat.
Released last week by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the agency’s Business Barometer stated that small business among Alberta’s small business owners had dropped 2.2 points during the month of October. With a confidence level of 72.2 out of 100, Alberta still has the second-highest level of confidence when it comes to small business, falling behind Saskatchewan at 73.2 and well ahead of last place Manitoba at 62.7.
The confidence level is scored using a monthly survey of small business across the province and country. Small business owners are asked not only about confidence in the performance of their business in the near future, but also about their hiring plans in the next few months.
“Anything between 55 and 75 is considered good economic growth territory, said Richard Truscott, Alberta Director for the CFIB. “We’re still in pretty good shape.”
Truscott speculated that economic volatility in Europe, which has seen the Greek economy collapse with Italy close behind, as well as uncertainty south of the border in the United States, is starting to catch up with small business owners in Alberta.
“I think that’s finally caught with Alberta,” Truscott said. “I think the troubles in global prices and commodity prices has affected Alberta.”
Despite the international problems, Moffat said St. Albert small business owners are savvy when it comes to the market and will watch the situation carefully.
“I don’t think anybody’s being flippant about it or is thinking it won’t affect them,” she said.
Moffat said the small business climate in St. Albert is slowly starting to resemble that of the boom times in Alberta earlier in the decade, citing workforce shortages as the key indicator.
“You can see it tightening up from where it was a couple of years ago when the economy was poor,” she said. “I know we’re not at the super-heated stage when stores were reducing hours because they didn’t have enough workers, but it is most certainly starting to feel the pressure once again, particularly for skilled labour.”
Regardless of what the CFIB says, Moffat was emphatic small business will continue to thrive.
“It’s small business that drives the economy and they are very much aware of where their money is going.”