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Northeast businesses gaining confidence

Wednesday, January 29, 2014   by: SooToday.com Staff

NEWS RELEASE

SAULT STE MARIE
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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Business confidence in the Northeast region is significantly up over last year, according to a new survey from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Leger Marketing.
  • 55 percent of businesses in the Northeast Ontario region are confident in the Ontario economy
  • 80 percent of businesses express confidence in their own organization’s outlook
  • 57 percent of businesses plan to expand in the next 5 years, on par with the provincial average

The annual Ontario Business Confidence Index shows that 55 percent of surveyed businesses in the region are confident in Ontario’s economy -- up by 5 percentage points over the same time last year.

The index also shows that 80 percent of the area’s businesses are confident in their own organization’s outlook, 4 percentage points higher than last year.

When asked about growing their business, 57 percent of businesses say they plan to expand within the next five years, a decrease of 5 percentage points from last year.

“In many ways, Northeast Ontario businesses are among the most confident in their own outlooks,” says Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “And their overall confidence levels only appear to be growing compared to last year.”

Mark Barsanti, 2014 President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce notes that the general consensus has been that Sault Ste. Marie and some other Northeast communities weathered the recent economic downturn fairly well with minimal job losses when compared to some other regions across the province and this may be a contributing factor to regional confidence.

“That said,” notes Barsanti, “As a Chamber, we are going to remain vigilant. We have to stay-the-course on local initiatives such as ensuring that shipping and exporting infrastructure is maintained and expanded, that resource-based businesses remain a viable and strong part of our Northeast employment base and that we continue to lobby and advocate for the continuance of valuable public sector jobs like the ones that the OLG head office provides for Sault Ste. Marie.”

The survey of businesses is featured in Emerging Stronger 2014, a business-driven economic agenda released by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and authored by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Mowat Centre and Leger Marketing.

The report identifies the immediate steps that government and the private sector must take to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness and spur job creation in the province.

“There are actions that government and business can do to boost our economy and business confidence,” says O’Dette. “But right now there is uncertainty in Ontario’s business climate, possibly as a result of potential changes to the pension system and rising energy costs.”

Barsanti notes that in reviewing the report, one item that stuck out relates to a survey question asking businesses and organizations if they had difficulty filling a job opening over the last 12 to 18 months due to the fact that they could not find someone with the right qualifications.

“A higher percentage of Northeast Ontario respondents (46%) actually responded in the affirmative to that question, compared to most other regions which tended to fall in the mid-20% to low-30% range,” says Barsanti.

“What this tells me is that we still have a way to go in selling Northern Ontario as a great place to live and raise a family, but it also tells me that there are opportunities for our Colleges and Universities to customize offerings even more.

We have great post-secondary institutions in Northern Ontario and we, as a business community, enjoy a close working relationship with them. We need to be working even more hand-in-hand with our colleges and universities to ensure that we have qualified people to meet the needs of northern jobs.”

Among the survey’s findings for the Northeast Ontario region are:

  • 80 percent of businesses are confident in their own economic outlook, roughly 6 percentage points higher than the provincial average.
  • 57 percent of businesses plan to expand in the next five years, down 5 percent from last year.
  • Roughly 45 percent of businesses believe that Ontario’s economy is headed in the right direction, approximately 3 percentage points above the provincial average.
  • 55 percent of the region’s businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy, 7 percentage points higher than the provincial average.

Read Emerging Stronger 2014 here.

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