Canada » Economic Development

Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities in 2009

October 2009

Queenie Wong, Research Analyst

The 2009 rankings reveal that the majority of urban fringes outscore city cores. Select cities in Saskatchewan and Quebec show better than average performance in providing a good environment for small business development. Generally, areas outside of the city centre promote greater business growth through stronger entrepreneurial culture and sounder public policy for businesses. 

The CFIB entrepreneurial city rankings are unique to other existing economic rankings.  Besides measuring core statistics such as business start-ups and self-employment, these rankings also incorporate direct measures of business climate—namely the actual perspectives of a community’s business owners. Measuring the current state of businesses provides insight on how well they are able to generate business within the community. Meanwhile, assessing future business outlook can help determine the viability of the businesses in an area and gauge how the local economy is performing as a whole. Using business owner views on local governance also helps rate the effectiveness of public policy on businesses.

There is no question that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are Canada’s engine of growth. After all, SMEs employ about 55% of all working individuals in the country. Businesses, whether they are located in urban or rural areas, play an integral part in the economic and social well-being of communities. In this study, Canadians can gain a better understanding of the triumphs and hardships of small business ventures within a city scope.

What makes an entrepreneurial city:
It may seem obvious, but the surest signs of an entrepreneurial hot spot are the presence of a high concentration of entrepreneurs and a high business start-up rate. It is also important that business owners have high levels of optimism and success in their operations. Good public policy is also critical, so we look at the presence of supportive local government tax and regulatory policies.

CFIB assembled a listing of 12 indicators. Drawing from published and custom-tabbed Statistics Canada sources, the index also contains direct perspectives from CFIB’s membership, which numbers more than 105,000 business owners across Canada. The city definitions are based on Statistics Canada’s Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) and Census Agglomerations (CAs), which cover local economic regions better than simply using municipal boundaries. There are approximately 100 CMAs and CAs with populations above 25,000 in Canada. In some cases, CFIB disaggregates CMAs in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver into core and suburban areas, while Ottawa-Gatineau is split into its Ontario and Quebec components.

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