CFIB’s Communities in Boom

Reading with interest and starting to boil inside about the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) report posted in the Financial Post “Communities in Boom”. The report purports to rank cities in Canada (from 1 to 103) based on entrepreneurial activity.

The report gives the top 15 ranking, in large measure, to cities located in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Not bad, given that both provinces are experiencing incredible economic booms.

I must take exception, however, to some of the rankings and the manner in which their relative strengths are ascribed.

Let me begin with St. Catharines-Niagara.

I believe the CFIB makes a glaring mistake linking economic activity and stature to St. Catharines and Niagara. What does it mean to describe St. Catharines and Niagara?

There is a fundamental difference between St. Catharines and Niagara. Niagara is a Region; St. Catharines is a City.

The Region of Niagara is comprised of several cities, many of which I believe are overlooked because of the moniker “Niagara”. It is a “region”.

The City of Niagara Falls, home to one of the most recognizable addresses in the world and to many entrepreneurs who make a very substantial contribution to the economy, get no mention.

The City of Port Colborne, which has re-developed its entire waterfront and downtown and includes some of the best restaurants in the “region”, gets no mention.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, a municipal jurisdiction with Canada’s only remaining “Lord Mayor” as head of its council and home to some of Canada’s best wineries, gets no mention.

The CFIB loses credibility on this front.

Then there is Kitchener. The city is hub to one of the fastest growing small business incubators without it referring to such. It is home to extraordinary development – it is entrepreneurship that has re-shaped the entire downtown core. The Council in Kitchener ought to be given kudos for shaping a political environment that encourages entrepreneurship.

The CFIB report barely gives its strengths on that front.

If an organization as august as the CFIB releases a report and does this with the blessing of the Financial Post, it should not just follow the money. It’s easy to give pats on the back to Alberta and Saskatchewan because the “history of those provinces is based on entrepreneurs…” who settled there. It should not however overlook historical business prowess in Canada’s largest province even during an economic melt down and most assuredly not lump a region into a city.

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