Alberta, B.C. cities dominate BMO rankings in latest report

Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver are the top small-business hotbeds in Canada, according to a new BMO Financial Group study.

Of Canada's smaller communities, Fort St. John, B.C., Grande Prairie and Whitehorse, Yukon, are the top small-business centres.

The study, Canada's Small Business Hotbeds: Latest Trends, examined 130 communities across the country to find which have the highest number of small businesses per capita as well as which communities have experienced the fastest growth in new businesses over the 2002-2004 period.

The study found that although small businesses are an important part of every community across Canada, Alberta and British Columbia centres dominate the rankings.

The study found that of the Census Metropolitan Areas or CMAs (defined as metropolitan areas with populations of more the 100,000), Calgary continues to receive top ranking in having the most small businesses per capita (35.9 payroll enterprises per 1,000 population).

Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and Abbotsford, B.C. ranked second on the list.

Between the years 2002 and 2004, the CMAs with the fastest growth rate of small businesses with payrolls were Kingston, Ont. (5.6 per cent), Abbotsford (2.6 per cent) Edmonton (2.1 per cent), Sherbrooke, Que. (1.9 per cent) and Oshawa, Ont. (1.5 per cent).

"This study shows that entrepreneurship continues to be a significant economic development and employment force in Canada," said Michelle Field, BMO's VP of business banking.

"Over 30 per cent of Canadians now either run or work for a small business with fewer than 50 employees, and we are seeing that number increase every year," said Field.

"Growth in small businesses with payrolls has come from sectors right across the board," said Rick Egelton, BMO's chief economist.

"Small businesses overwhelmingly dominate the primary sectors of farming, forestry, fishing and hunting and are particularly concentrated in construction, retail and certain service sectors."

The study also examines Census Agglomerations (CAs), which are those areas with populations of at least 10,000 but less than 100,000.

Of the 108 CAs examined, Fort St. John has the highest number of payroll-based enterprises at 48.5 per 1,000 residents.

The top five list was rounded out by Grande Prairie (47.6), Whitehorse (47.0), Lloydminster (46.8) and Swift Current, Sask. (43.1).

The fastest-growing small-business CAs between 2002 and 2004 are all in Ontario.

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