Thomson: Small business the engine of provincial economy

Small businesses are the engine of our provincial economy.

When it comes to growing our economy and creating jobs, small businesses are often the unsung heroes.

That’s why our government has proclaimed October Small Business Month in B.C., to honour their many contributions.

Small business owners toil for long hours, pouring their hearts and souls into the personal passion they’ve turned into a business—with their behind-the-scenes sacrifices often going unnoticed.

They are driven risk-takers, sometimes failing a number of times before getting off the ground and hitting their stride.

And while they might face a lot of ‘downs,’ the ‘ups’ prove very worthwhile. Watching a business go from an idea to a success story is extremely rewarding and fulfilling.

I can’t think of a better example of that passion and dedication than Farmer Jeff at Old Meadows Organic Farm in my riding of Kelowna-Mission.

This is a young man who left the corporate world behind to pursue his passion for sustainable farming.

I’m proud to say that his certified organic farm and market on Gordon Drive is situated on the Thomson Heritage farm, which has been in our family and community for more than 100 years.

Like many local farmers, Farmer Jeff’s operation has become a family affair. His parents, sisters, niece and nephew have all played key roles in helping him along the way and together they have created something truly unique.

As Farmer Jeff works hard to pursue sustainability practices, there are many other examples of innovation across the agricultural industry.

BC Tree Fruits—known for promoting B.C.’s amazing apples, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, prune plums and nectarines—is now in the beverage game with the launch of its Broken Ladder cider.

This premium craft cider is comprised of 100 per cent BC Tree Fruits apples with no added sugars, flavouring or water—just natural goodness.

From cideries to wineries to fine dining, many Okanagan establishments are finding new ways to showcase agricultural goods that have been grown here for more than a century.

Innovation is also at the heart of Ecora, an engineering, natural resource and environmental consulting company here in Kelowna.

Given the importance of the resource industry here in B.C., their analytical services are in high demand in forestry, oil and gas, municipal developments, alternative energy, and other industries.

As minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations I’ve had a chance to tour their facilities and meet some of the faces behind their interesting work—like Bruce McClymont, who showed off his skills in 3D Vegetative Resource Inventory mapping. Their expertise is valued by clients locally and abroad.

Small businesses are the engine of our provincial economy. Ninety-eight per cent of all businesses in B.C. are small businesses, generating 33 per cent of the province’s GDP and employing more than one million people.

Let’s celebrate just how much they contribute to the economic and social fabric of our province.