~ By Minister Pat Bell
For five years now, British Columbia has proclaimed October small business month. This year, the proclamation could not come at a more appropriate time.
The world economy is again on tumultuous ground. Although B.C.’s economy is on solid footing thanks to 10 years of strong fiscal management, we need to grow on this foundation.
Less than two weeks ago, our government released a plan designed to protect and create B.C. jobs. It’s about taking decisive actions – removing barriers or providing support in key sectors to boost domestic, cross-border and global export opportunities. It’s about bringing new investment into all regions of the province – accelerating job creation and growing revenues which support B.C. families.
As part of Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan, our government will provide a $3-million increase to B.C.’s successful Small Business Venture Capital Program tax credit, targeted to direct investments in new businesses. This program encourages individuals – known as “angel investors” – to invest their own capital directly into an eligible small business and offer strategic expertise.
The additional $3 million would boost the current $30-million annual tax credit budget for venture capital programs for small business. Eligible investors may receive a 30-per-cent tax credit for investing in eligible small businesses under the Small Business Venture Capital tax credit program. The program currently supports up to $100 million annually in total investments. The additional $3 million would target direct investments in new businesses.
Prior to politics, I ran a number of small businesses. I understand the pressures of meeting a payroll and the pleasures of providing a service to my community. I also know one of the most important products of a small business is the jobs they provide for their communities, especially in small and rural communities.
Whether they are part-time employment for students or careers that support families, British Columbia’s small business sector is a significant job creator in the province, making up 98 per cent of all business and employing over one million people.
Small business accounts for 57 per cent of all private sector employment in the province, the second highest rate in the country, and makes up 30 per cent of the province’s GDP. Clearly small business is pivotal to the success in B.C.’s economy and I believe they have a major role in our future.
Since 2001, the Province has implemented a series of economic actions to make British Columbia one of the most business-friendly and competitive jurisdictions in the G7. These include: tax reductions; streamlined regulations for business; improved labour mobility between provinces; new and upgraded transportation infrastructure; new trade offices and a series of trade missions to attract investment from Asia.