Statement Article from  Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Statement on Small Business Week 2016

By the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister Small Business and Tourism,
On Behalf of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

October 21, 2016

Each October, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) joins the nation in celebrating Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Small Business Week™ to salute Canadian entrepreneurs and the contributions that they make.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy—creating jobs, invigorating communities and bringing new ideas to the marketplace. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country employ 90 percent of Canada's private sector workforce and account for 39 percent of our GDP. Ontario is home to 33 percent of the nation's SMEs, and FedDev Ontario's goal is to provide them the opportunity to expand and, ultimately, to succeed.

Since 2009, FedDev Ontario has been working hard to ensure that the right support is in place so southern Ontario entrepreneurs can be more innovative and productive. We've committed more than $1.6 billion, which is estimated to have resulted in more than $2.4 billion in additional leveraged funds. This includes more than 325 projects with SMEs and more than 50 projects with incubators and accelerators.

This week, FedDev Ontario launched its new success stories web page to showcase the businesses and organizations that we support. We're featuring five small businesses that were funded through the Investing in Business Innovation (IBI) initiative, as key examples of how the government is focusing on supporting the scaling-up of innovative, export-oriented firms with ambition to grow into global leaders. I encourage you to visit our website, and learn about these and other projects that FedDev Ontario funding has positively affected.

We know that the sustained growth of SMEs in southern Ontario can be hindered by challenges in accessing capital and developing the necessary business skills. The IBI initiative is designed to address these challenges by providing early-stage companies with mentorship and seed financing. This summer, I spoke at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre's (AC) Spark event to announce the third and fourth cohorts of their AC JumpStart Program. Last year, FedDev Ontario contributed $8 million through IBI to expand JumpStart, which is expected to help 180 high-potential businesses to grow.

FedDev Ontario delivers a full suite of direct funding initiatives that offer support for various stages of business growth. In addition, the Agency provides third-party funding in collaboration with groups such as Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Yves Landry Foundation and Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs), which has significantly extended our reach to the number of SMEs we can help. FedDev Ontario currently provides funding to CFDCs that offer community economic development and business counselling services, as well as access to capital, encouraging growth and economic diversification across southern Ontario.

Another important service FedDev Ontario offers is Canada Business Ontario, which provides free business information and can help small business owners navigate available government programs. Throughout the year, and particularly in October, Canada Business Ontario works with community partners to engage and inspire entrepreneurs with various events and tradeshows, offering speakers, panel discussions and networking opportunities.

It is clear to us that supporting southern Ontario SMEs is good for communities, and can lead to significant contributions towards the Canadian economy. FedDev Ontario will continue to make strategic investments in southern Ontario in order to create jobs and a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, which I am sure we can all agree, is something to celebrate!

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Hon. Bardish Chagger Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Economics and Industry

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