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BMO Study: 75 per cent of Canadian small business owners are optimistic about the economy and their prospects for growth


* Small businesses connected to resource and retail sectors expected to benefit
* Leger study reveals perspectives from male and female entrepreneurs
* Canadian small businesses account for more than one-third of new private sector jobs

TORONTO – With A national study released by BMO Bank of Montreal today reveals that three out of four Canadian small business owners are optimistic about the economy, and (76 per cent) are currently investing in their business.

The encouraging findings align with the federal government’s focus on the small business sector, which contributes half of the country’s gross domestic product. Earlier this year the government declared 2011 The Year of the Entrepreneur, while the upcoming federal budget is generating heightened interest for entrepreneurs.

“The numbers show an encouraging level of optimism within the small business community,” said Gail Cocker, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. “We’re working closely with small business owners to help them make strategic spending and investment decisions - such as upgrading equipment, training and processes - to increase productivity and exploit the competitive position of Canadian businesses at home and abroad.”

The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, shows 86 per cent of entrepreneurs see the economy remaining at its current level of growth or expanding, and 89 per cent of small business owners believe their own business will grow or remain the same in 2011.

According to BMO Economics, these latest numbers indicate that the Canadian economy is shifting from recovery to expansion. They also bode well for further job creation, with small businesses accounting for more than one-third of new private sector jobs over the last decade. Furthermore, the Canadian economy is expected to grow 3 per cent in 2011. For small business owners, their growth prospects should parallel the sector they operate within:

* Retail, including food services – Solid growth of around 3 per cent is expected this year in response to steady growth in consumer spending and the population.
* Resource – Canadian commodity price index up 12 per cent in the past year and is expected to remain firm.
* Housing – Modest growth due to anticipation of rising interest rates.

Other Key Findings:


* 44 per cent of male Canadian small business owners believe the economy will grow this year compared to 29 per cent of women.
* Small business owners in Western Canada most positive about growth in the economy (B.C. 53 per cent, Alberta 58 per cent , Manitoba and Saskatchewan 52 per cent), Quebec the least positive about economic growth (26 per cent)
* 93 per cent of small business owners in the retail, commercial, and business service sectors believe economy will grow or remain the same this year, compared to 78 per cent in the travel/tourism and arts and culture sectors.
* The larger the business, as measured by number of employees and revenue, the more optimistic their owner’s outlook on the economy


* 42 per cent of male Canadian small business owners believe their business will grow this year compared to 39 per cent of women. However twice as many male business owners believe that their business will shrink in 2011 - 10 per cent versus 5 per cent for female owners.
* Franchise owners are the most optimistic about the future growth prospects of their businesses, with 91 per cent expecting their business to grow or remain the same.

The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing between February 1 – 25, 2011, using a sample of 507 Canadian small business owners. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±4.4%, 19 times out of 20.


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