Resilience, perseverance and innovation are the cornerstone of this year’s Small Business Week, Oct. 17-23.
The Province recognizes the more than 500,000 small businesses in B.C. that continue to adapt throughout the pandemic to keep people safe and provide the services people count on.
“The pandemic has tested each and every small business in every part of this province,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This week allows us to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the significant efforts and determination of our small businesses. From shifting sales to online platforms to the successful implementation of the B.C. vaccine card, small businesses continue to support their communities through these difficult times. I encourage everyone to show your appreciation this week, and all weeks, by supporting local businesses in your community.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Province has provided financial supports to hard-hit industries and businesses. The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery and the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grants alone have now committed more than half a billion dollars to support B.C. businesses.
To date, more than 90% of successful Small and Medium Sized Businesses Recovery Grant recipients and more than 99% of the successful Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant recipients have received their one-time payment to help keep staff working, implement safety protocols and adapt or innovate their services.
One of the more than 22,600 recipients of the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant is Vancouver Island Arcade Amusements, a Victoria-based business that runs Quazars Arcade and Powerhouse Pinball. The operation used the grant to adjust their business strategy to include separated events and gatherings with smaller groups.
“Like so many businesses, we were forced to close when the pandemic first hit,” said Steve Webb, CEO, Vancouver Island Arcade Amusements. “The grants from government allowed us to adapt our business and reopen our arcade safely. It’s really rewarding to have the public return to the arcade and tell us they’re glad we survived. Being able to open our doors again, serve our community, see the smiles and keep our staff working are really important to us.”
When it comes to supporting local business, the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant will provide approximately 1,250 B.C.-based professional service providers with almost $20 million through the grant program, to assist applicants with the development of recovery plans.
“We built these grant programs with input from the business community,” Kahlon said. “I want to thank everyone who came to the table to make these grant programs a success. As we continue to recover from this pandemic and build a stronger B.C. for everyone, we are committed to continuing to invest in people, B.C. businesses and our communities.”
In addition to these grants, the Province also worked with small businesses over the past year to shift to a more digital-focused online presence. Through the Launch Online Grant program, more than 5,500 businesses in B.C. were able to build their e-commerce capacity and market services online. The grant program, which wrapped up in September 2021, has provided nearly $40 million to improve online capacity and booking systems to help businesses reach their customers and expand to new markets. Nearly 50% of approved applicants are from regional or Indigenous, Black and people of colour (IBPOC)-owned businesses.
To further support businesses to pivot and adapt to the post-pandemic economy, the Province is funding business owners and their employees to take Alacrity Canada’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. The program offers small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to take online courses to learn how to better connect with consumers, access markets and drive their businesses forward. Nearly 6,000 people will have taken the course by March 2022 to enhance their digital marketing skills to help grow their businesses. The program remains open to applicants.
During Small Business Week 2021, entrepreneurs can take part in free webinars put on by Small Business BC and the Government of B.C. The webinars will offer educational tools to help businesses rebuild and recover from the pandemic.
“Small Business BC is honoured to support free education for entrepreneurs during Small Business Week,” said Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC. “This offering comes at a critical time for small business owners who have been struggling, pivoting and dealing with the economic pressures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Province of B.C., which provided support for this week’s programming, in addition to the critical funding it supplied to run the COVID-19 support line, Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grants and the Circuit Breaker program.”
The ongoing support for businesses throughout the pandemic is part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, and the ongoing commitment to build an inclusive, innovative and sustainable economic recovery for everyone who lives in B.C.
To find out more about the economic supports for businesses, organizations and community groups, visit:
To learn more about the Alacrity Canada’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp and to apply, visit:
To join a free webinar during Small Business Week put on by Small Business BC, visit:
For more information on StrongerBC, visit:
A backgrounder follows.