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The skyline of Edmonton, Alberta
The skyline of Edmonton, Alberta

Small Business Briefing

Can Alberta regain its entrepreneurial advantage? Add to ...

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As Alberta’s political landscape continues to shift, there’s one issue leaders – polarized as they might be – can "hopefully" agree on, writes Richard Truscott of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

In an op-ed piece in the Edmonton Journal, he argues that, to ensure the province's long-term prosperity, it must become a more hospitable place to own and run a small business.

“At one time, Alberta was clearly a leader, whether it was tax reform, cutting red tape, or any other key issue affecting entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, in the past few years, the government has been stuck in neutral, as other provinces closed the gap."

To restore the so-called ‘Alberta Advantage,’ Mr. Truscott proposes the following steps:

1. Long-term tax relief. He acknowledges that Alberta business owners have it pretty good overall, especially since they do not have to collect and administer provincial sales tax for the government. But But the fact that the other three Western provinces reduced their small business income tax rate leaves Alberta with a higher rate, eroding any advantage it may have had previously. "Staged reductions" in the small business income tax rate would go a long way, he suggests.

2. Commitment to cutting red tape. The province used to be a pioneer at ensuring rules and regulations made sense, and didn’t burden entrepreneurs, but the government has become complacent, emphasizing that the next leader must make regulatory reform a priority.

3. Address labour shortages. For Alberta business owners, it’s a real problem. In fact, recent CFIB data reveals that 46 per cent of entrepreneurs say the shortage of skilled labour is hindering sales and production, making it an operating challenge. While hiring is a small-business problem, the government could develop a training tax credit which could increase the number of qualified, reliable employees.

High-quality education...for free?

Sebastian Thrun, one of the world's top robotics experts, is out to change the way we think about Web education. To counter what he views as a "broken U.S. college education system," the former Stanford University professor and senior Google executive launched Udacity Inc. with David Stavens last year. The start-up is geared toward teaching large groups of people online at no cost, with the ultimate goal of helping them find employment.

For now, Udacity is focused on teaching computer science courses, but plans to venture into other areas such as physics and even premed, according to Mr. Thrun. Read more about his company here.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Halifax entrepreneurship expo and gala dinner

On April 18, dine with a Dragon. As the keynote speaker for the Halifax Entrepreneurship Expo, Robert Herjavec will give you insights on being an entrepreneur. The Expo takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the dinner 7 p.m.

Business of Aging Summit: Workplace Wellness

The MaRS Discovery District is hosting a Business of Aging summit, which will offer targeted discussion and practical strategies to improve health and increase productivity both for aging employees and those caring for aging parents. The event takes place on April 30 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Don’t get carried away by Facebook-Instagram megadeal

While billion-dollar deals are sexy, it is still important to keep the focus on building a solid business that will thrive even when such an overheated market cools .

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Snared by the ‘passion trap’

In his book, entrepreneur and consultant John Bradberry warns of six consequences that a startup’s misdirected enthusiasm can cause

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