BMO Financial Group
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BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

May 31, 2013 12:01 ET

BMO Provincial Business Report: Business Owners in British Columbia Have Sunniest Outlook in the Country

- Looking ahead: 51 per cent expect 2013 to be a better year for business

- More than half expect their business to grow this year and 31 per cent of business owners plan to invest more into their business

- A third of B.C. businesses expect their number of employees will increase in 2013

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 31, 2013) - British Columbia business owners are the most confident in the country about business growth; 69 per cent were positive about the economy, compared to the national average of 62 per cent.

The findings are part of BMO poll of B.C. business owners, conducted by Pollara, which examined the outlook for growth and plans to invest. It revealed:

  • More than half (56 per cent) of owners in B.C. expect their business to grow in 2013, with just 20 per cent expecting it to shrink
  • 31 per cent plan to invest more into their business this year
  • They are also the most positive about the Canadian economy as a whole; 51 per cent expecting it to improve in 2013, while just 8 per cent expecting it to worsen

"Our B.C. clients continue to tell us they are cautiously optimistic about the future," said Dean Kirkham, Vice President, Commercial Banking, Greater Vancouver, BMO Bank of Montreal. "BMO's commercial loan demand in B.C. has been relatively robust across all sectors this calendar year, consistent with the survey results."

Economic Drivers in B.C.

According to BMO Economics, one sector that has particularly thrived in the last year is forestry, with exports up 17 per cent year-over-year in March. Overall economic growth remains muted, however, and GDP will likely hold steady at 1.7 per cent in 2013.

"Among the headwinds are a slowing domestic housing market in B.C. and softer Asian export demand, though a resurgent U.S. housing market plus firmer momentum in China will likely support exports later in the year," said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

B.C. Business Owners Planning to Hire

While 24 per cent of businesses across the country expect to increase their number of employees this year, that number is higher in B.C. (29 per cent), according to the poll.

The survey also found a healthy market for students or recent graduates, with 40 per cent expecting to hire a paid summer student or a graduate as a permanent employee.

The labour market has softened in B.C. over the last year, according to BMO Economics, with no net new job growth in the past year. The service sector has seen modest job growth over the last year, offset by decreases in manufacturing and construction.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $555 billion as at April 30, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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