VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – People struggling to get their small business off the ground in Metro Vancouver might want to think of moving to Squamish.
The district was ranked the best place in British Columbia for entrepreneurs and 10th in the country in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ annual Entrepreneurial Communities index. This is the first time Squamish has been included in the index because of new data gathered by Statistics Canada.
The high ranking, in part, to Squamish’s lower property values and proximity to a major urban centre, according to CFIB head economist Ted Mallett.
“It’s got a high degree of lifestyle community that does attract professionals and self employed,” he said. “But is also within relatively easy driving distance of a major urban centre.”
Squamish Mayor, Karen Elliott, says she’s delighted but not surprised by the ranking.
“We have an incredibly young and educated population in Squamish, compared to the rest of the province,” she said, adding the median age is 37, compared to B.C.’s 47 and 69 per cent of adults between 25 and 64 hold post secondary degrees. “We know they’ve chosen Squamish for the lifestyle.”
Elliott says the city of 21,000 has grown by three per cent for several years and is anticipating to be a community of 30,000 within the next 10 years. She said in the coming years, one of the barriers for entrepreneurs will be office space and light industrial land.
“We are definitely working on that on behalf of our entrepreneurs locally. We have their interests in mind, we’re working hard on their behalf at the political level,” she said. “We’ll look forward to hopefully making the list or doing better next year.”
However, she does not want to sacrifice green space and trails; some of the reasons people to move to Squamish.
Vancouver ranked 56 out of the 125 communities included, while Metro Vancouver ranked slightly higher, at 47. Vancouver has slowly risen in the rankings over the past eight years, but the Metro area plummeted from 28th in 2016.
Mallett says, in part, high commercial property taxes are keeping many other communities such as the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver down.
“That’s a big problem because cost of doing business is a big detriment to the startup culture, and it’s tough for businesses to find reasons to locate to commercial space, for example, when costs are so high,” he said. “Certain communities really because of high cost of real estate, then people start thinking creatively and finding other ways to make that work.”
Elliott says Squamish’s property tax ratios are slightly higher than the provincial average, but the city is attempting to match it.
The index looks at 13 entrepreneurship indicators grouped into three main categories including the presence and growth of business ownership, perspective for growth, and government policy.