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BMO Bank of Montreal

March 12, 2011 06:00 ET

REPEAT-BMO Study: 81 per cent of Small Business Owners in Saskatchewan and Manitoba Are Optimistic About the Economy and Their Prospects for Growth

- Small business owners' optimism in Prairie and Western Provinces leads country

- 89 per cent of small business owners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan see the economy remaining at its current level of growth or expanding

- 92 per cent also believe their own business will grow or remain the same in 2011

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA and REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - March 12, 2011) - A national study released by BMO Bank of Montreal today reveals that four out of five small business owners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are optimistic about the economy, and (67 per cent) are currently investing in their business.

These latest numbers suggest that the Canadian economy is shifting from recovery to expansion. They also bode well for further job creation, with small businesses accounting for more than one-third of new private sector jobs over the last decade.

Manitoba

According to BMO Economics, Manitoba's economy is gaining momentum, and we expect growth to strengthen to 2.9 per cent this year compared with an estimated 2.3 per cent rate last year. Solid population growth should support consumer spending and the service-producing sector. Exporters and manufacturers will benefit from a moderate pickup in U.S. demand, but will face some challenges from a high Canadian dollar.

"Even though it's early going in 2011, it is clear that there is an optimism and confidence that is driving this business-led recovery across the province," said Rick Jaques, District Vice-President, Manitoba, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Small businesses are on the frontlines, and they see before most of us what is really happening in the economy. The fact that they are optimistic, that they see strengthening consumer confidence, is moving them to explore opportunities to invest, upgrade their businesses and retool for future growth," added Jaques.

Saskatchewan

According to BMO Economics, Saskatchewan's economy is expected to lead the nation with 4.0 per cent growth this year, double the estimated rate of last year, in response to high commodity prices, increased drilling activity in the energy patch, and good population growth

"Our business customers - especially our agri-business partners have weathered a challenging period - but are optimistic about 2011 and the growing season ahead," said Mike Darling, District Vice-President, Saskatchewan, BMO Bank of Montreal. "We see the ongoing expansion in the potash sector, along with investment in energy to be a solid driver of economic activity, and we are seeing a growing confidence in other businesses as they look to gain strength," added Darling.

National Survey findings:

  • Three out of four Canadian small business owners are optimistic about the economy, and (76 per cent) are currently investing in their business.
  • 86 per cent of entrepreneurs see the economy remaining at its current level of growth or expanding, and 89 per cent of small business owners believe their own business will grow or remain the same in 2011.
  • 44 per cent of male Canadian small business owners believe the economy will grow this year, compared to 29 per cent of women.
  • 42 per cent of male Canadian small business owners believe their business will grow this year, compared to 39 per cent of women. However twice as many male business owners believe that their business will shrink in 2011 - 10 per cent compared to 5 per cent for female owners.
  • 93 per cent of small business owners in the retail, commercial, and business service sectors believe economy will grow or remain the same this year, compared to 78 per cent in the travel/tourism and arts and culture sectors.
  • The larger the business, as measured by numbers of employees and revenue, the more optimistic their owner's outlook on the economy.

The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing between February 1 – 25, 2011, using a sample of 507 Canadian small business owners. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±4.4%, 19 times out of 20.

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