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BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

May 31, 2013 08:44 ET

BMO Provincial Business Report: Low Taxes and Natural Resources Fuel Optimism Among Alberta Business Owners

- Looking ahead: 40 per cent expect Alberta's economy to improve

- Business owners in Alberta are the most optimistic in Canada about hiring more employees

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - May 31, 2013) - Business owners in Alberta, despite having a mixed outlook on the Canadian economy, are upbeat about their province's prospects for growth.

The findings are part of a BMO poll of Alberta business owners, conducted by Pollara, to determine what local entrepreneurs see as the competitive advantage of doing business in their province. It revealed:

  • 19 per cent cite the strength of the local economy as the main advantage to doing business in Alberta
  • Another 15 per cent see taxes, which are low and stable and have helped support economic growth, as beneficial
  • Natural resources are cited by 11 per cent as a key aspect of the province's competitive edge.

"The recurring theme in Alberta among business owners remains a real sense of optimism, both for the major cities of Calgary and Edmonton and the province as a whole," said Mike Darling, Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "This sentiment is largely driven by the oil and gas sector, which has seen expansion and growth across many areas of the industry."

"BMO is on track to invest $100 million in Alberta between 2011 and 2014 to expand services to a growing customer base. Alberta has seen tremendous growth, and by putting resources on the ground we are reaffirming the potential we see for continued expansion," he said.

Outlook for Growth in Alberta

The report also found that 40 per cent of business owners in Alberta expect the provincial economy to improve, while half that (20 per cent) expect it to worsen. Feelings about Canada's economy were mixed, with 19 per cent expecting it to improve and 17 per cent expecting it to worsen.

According to BMO Economics, the resource sector, though facing challenges, continues to fuel above-average growth in Western Canada. Alberta's economy is forecasted to expand 2.5 per cent this year, well above the 1.6 per cent national rate.

"Alberta's GDP continues to outpace the national average in Canada, fuelling this optimism and creating opportunities for businesses to hire," said Lynda Taylor, Vice President, Commercial Banking, North Alberta, Bank of Montreal.

Alberta Hiring Intentions Outpacing National Average

The BMO Provincial Business Report shows nearly one-third (31 per cent) of Alberta business owners expect their number of employees to increase in 2013, with just 2 per cent expecting their number to decline. This compares to the national average of 24 per cent expecting to increase their staff and 7 per cent expecting a decrease.

"While employment growth in Alberta has cooled slightly from 2012, the provincial jobless rate remains low at 4.4 per cent, which is the second lowest in Canada," said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

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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