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Small Business Report on Small Business newsletter: Brisk business for Nova Scotia boat builders

In Nova Scotia, an economic broom brings all the boats to the yard

A newly finished lobster fishing boat waits on a trailer in a yard at Wedgeport Boats, like a displaced sea creature ready to return. The Porsche-red hull gleams in the Nova Scotia sun. Standing on the ground in its shadow, the vessel’s owner, Mark Rogers, watches with satisfaction as the vinyl sticker – the kind used for race cars – is applied to the bow, revealing a muscled, smiling cartoon lobster. It’s the afternoon before the official launch of the Katie Anne – named, according to custom, for Mr. Rogers’s now-grown daughter. The launch has been planned for a Friday, which, as grizzled fishermen will say, is traditionally a day best avoided for a new voyage. But Mr. Rogers figures he’s balanced those odds: A priest is coming to deliver a blessing with holy water and, although he isn’t Roman Catholic, he’s accepted a rosary – once owned by a nun – to hang in the cockpit of the boat, just for luck. “I would rather have God with me than against me,” he quips. “I can get in enough trouble on my own.”

But fortune is already smiling on East Coast lobster fishermen and boat builders alike, thanks to a thriving lobster fishery, fuelled by a strong global market, abundant catch and a low dollar. Fishermen with older boats have been flipping them at prices high enough to make trading up possible, investing in vessels with larger holds so they can stay out at sea longer and swishier accommodation for the crew. In the past five years, according to the Nova Scotia Boat Builders Association, sales for new builds and repairs in the province have more than doubled – to $110-million in 2018. Story

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Meet Canada's first legal small-scale cannabis growers

Nearly nine months after applications were submitted, Canada’s first legal small-scale recreational cannabis growers are finally open for business – but so far, there are just three of them. Health Canada’s regulatory framework for cannabis producers includes provisions for microcultivators, which grow cannabis, and microprocessors, which develop and package the product for final sale and may create items such as oils. Unlike larger licensed producers, microcultivators are limited to 200 square metres of growing space, while microprocessors are generally capped at handling 600 kilograms of product a year. These sites also are subject to less stringent security requirements than their larger counterparts. Story

Vena Solutions names long-time cloud sales leader Hunter Madeley as CEO

One of North America’s most seasoned cloud software sales leaders is taking over as CEO of Toronto’s Vena Solutions Inc., seven months after the financial planning and analysis software firm attracted a nine-figure equity investment. Hunter Madeley, previously the chief sales officer with Cambridge, Mass.,-based HubSpot Inc., and before that a sales vice-president with Salesforce.com Inc. and Automatic Data Processing Inc., will succeed co-founder Don Mal at a time of high interest in Vena’s sector. Last year, Vena’s larger competitor, Silicon Valley-based Adaptive Insights, was purchased by software giant Workday Inc. for US$1.55-billion while another, San Francisco’s Anaplan Inc., went public. In January, two U.S. private equity firms, JMI Equity and existing backer Centana Growth Partners made a $115-million equity investment in Vena, valuing it in excess of $300-million. Story

Growth of Hamilton Airport brings opportunities for local businesses.

Before Parmod Sharma opened J&A’s Bar at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, there was nowhere in the terminal to have a beer. Passengers would go through security to find themselves in a large waiting room with a limited-service Tim Hortons kiosk serving doughnuts and coffee, a duty-free store and a convenience store. “People were actually saying, ‘I need a drink,'” said Mr. Sharma, the former duty-free manager. After hearing that refrain enough, he struck out on his own in July, 2014, opening J&A’s Bar. Passenger traffic at the airport rose 118 per cent between 2016 and 2018, with cargo traffic increasing by 20 per cent in that time – John C. Munro handles the most overnight express cargo of any airport in Canada. Direct and indirect employment related to the airport has increased 25 per cent in four years, to about 3,450, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the airport. Story

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Why some gig workers are pushing to unionize

Unionization in the gig economy might sound like an oxymoron, but for those who feel mistreated by the platforms they work for, independence is beside the point. While many professionals are choosing to work as freelancers and contract workers, gig economy workers are just as likely to be working independently out of necessity, says Alex Kurth, a courier in Toronto for popular restaurant delivery platform Foodora Inc. “There are people who do this because the lifestyle appeals to them, but there are also people doing this because they don’t have better choices, and would prefer a more stable and less precarious working situation,” says Mr. Kurth, who is also an organizer with Foodsters United, a group of Toronto-based couriers seeking unionization. While the ease of signing on with a gig economy platform makes it appealing to those looking to fill a gap between jobs, Mr. Kurth says re-entering the traditional workforce isn’t as simple. In his experience, many people end up working in the gig economy longer than they anticipate. Story

Fish buyer in PEI opens plant to promote Canada’s sustainable tuna fishery

A tuna buyer in Prince Edward Island has opened Canada’s first federally licensed plant to process bluefin tuna for the world sushi market. Jason Tompkins of OneTuna, says after 18 years as a tuna buyer he saw an opportunity to change the way tuna is bought, sold and marketed, and he’s looking to spread the word that Canada has the most regulated and sustainable tuna fishery in the world. The Canadian Press

Creative small-business owners keep an eye out for talent in unexpected places

As Deborah Sweeney placed her order in the drive-thru of a Starbucks near her home, she was impressed by the barista’s attitude and attention to detail. At Ms. Sweeney’s next visit, the staffer remembered her name. Ms. Sweeney, chief executive of MyCorporation.com, was so amazed that she hired the young woman, first as a receptionist and then in customer service for the Calabasas, Calif.-based online business consultancy. “She ended up being a rock star,” says Ms. Sweeney. Associated Press

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WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE

Chip Wilson makes a surprise speech during ‘Rave Against Renovictions’

Athletic wear billionaire Chip Wilson wasn’t invited to the protest and dance party held outside his home Saturday but made a surprise appearance that left an impression. More than 60 artists and activists assembled outside the Lululemon Athletica founder’s $73.1-million Point Grey Road home for the “Rave Against Renovictions.” They protested the eviction and displacement of studios and music venues by Wilson’s development firm, Low Tide Properties. As the protesters began setting up around noon, Wilson emerged from his home with family and surprised them by chatting for two minutes. Vancouver Sun

Unhappy customer asked to sign legal agreement not to write a bad review

After a major kitchen renovation, an Ottawa couple says the contractor has refused to reimburse money they’re owed unless they sign a legal agreement preventing them from publishing a negative review. Wary of online reviews that can hurt or even sink a small business, companies are taking steps to protect themselves. But customers sometimes balk at what are called non-disparagement clauses. CBC

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