As the chamber president I am often asked how we can promote business development in our area. The question sounds simple enough but in reality it can be a difficult thing to do.
Many of the people I have spoken to are looking to start a small or home-based business in our area and while these smaller businesses may not generate as much money as large corporations; they are a major contributor to the strength of our local economies.
They help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. Small businesses tend to attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas.
With this in mind we must as a community support these entrepreneurs as much as we can.
A couple of key areas of concern for these new entrepreneurs face is the amount of red tape they experience when beginning their business and the fact that many do not know where to go for information, support and assistance with their business ideas.
A recent article on the CBC News discusses how the owner of a home-based business in Lunenburg called The Hat Junkie has fought to have the building codes relating to commercial spaces in Nova Scotia changed.
The article discusses how the owner Anna Shoub obtained all the necessary permits to operate a home based business however was then visited by the building inspector and told that her business was deemed a commercial property.
As a commercial property, Shoub would have had to make extensive changes to her home including the addition of firewalls, accessible doors and a barrier free washroom which would have cost thousands of dollars to complete.
The proposed changes in the building code will reduce the burden for home-based businesses and avoid unnecessary costs to the owners.
Often people will say there is so much information out there regarding business start-ups that is very confusing to know what is correct and where to begin. When the Community Credit Union Business and Innovation Centre opens its’ doors in the fall, staff will be able to assist individuals with a business plan; guide them through the process and paperwork of beginning a business or expanding the business they currently operate.
With meeting rooms and a business hub that individuals can access it will support entrepreneurs from the idea stage to we are now open for business sign in the window. Currently these services are available by stopping in at 35 Church St. or at CANSA on Victoria Street.
Businesses should not forget the support their local Chamber of Commerce can provide to them as well. A business owner should want to belong to an organization whose sole purpose is to work on behalf of its members and support them in business. Chambers do this by providing free opportunities to promote your business, networking events to meet your business neighbors and free educational programs based on business needs and a member benefits and discounts provided by the Canadian and Atlantic Chamber and we offer all this and more for the cost of a cup of coffee per day.
So if you as a small business, home based business or an investor are experiencing red tape issues, have business concerns or just questions there are agencies and organizations to support you as you in turn support the economy of our region.
Wayne Bishop is president of the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce.