I am writing to ask the citizens of Whistler to give a gift back to a small independent business this Christmas season. Nothing could mean more to a small Whistler business than to know you made a special effort to buy local and to buy at least one item from an independent business. Small businesses in Whistler have given so much to our community for so long and for the most part, it goes unnoticed.
Small businesses are truly the cornerstone of British Columbia’s communities. Ninety-eight per cent of all businesses in B.C. are small businesses and 83 per cent have fewer than five employees. That's what small businesses do best: employ our friends, relatives, neighbours, children, parents and even grandparents. Have you ever thought about it? Small businesses in Whistler account for 56 per cent of all private sector employment and they hire over 60 per cent of all new employees. Independent businesses are the most likely to try and hold onto their staff in slow economic times. Small business owners are the first to forgo a paycheque themselves at the end of the month in order to first pay their number one resource and asset, their loyal employees.
In addition to the economic and employment benefits they provide, small business owners lead the way when it comes to giving back to our community in which we live, work and play. A recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows a staggering 96 per cent of small businesses give back through cash donations to non-profits, donations of in-kind goods and services and even donations of their own time by volunteering for local non-profit groups. The next time you see a sports field full of children, remember that their uniforms were most likely donated in whole or in part by a small Whistler business owner. The coach is also more than likely a small business owner, or works for one. CFIB found that 22 per cent of small business owners are also likely to be donating their employees’ work time back to the community in one form or another.
Many small business owners work over 60 hours a week and spend their nights and weekends doing government paperwork and remittances to keep their businesses going. We often don't think about this time commitment or the risk they take when they finance their small business with a mortgage against their home.
After the bustling holiday season, many small businesses in Whistler will struggle. If you are lured by flashy advertising, bright lights and big parking lots, take a moment to think of our local small business owner and what they do for us. Give back to our small business community by supporting them through the purchase of at least one item this season. Small businesses are truly B.C.'s economic engine and they will be the first to lead us out of this economic downturn. Let's help them survive so they stay afloat and continue to give, donate, volunteer and hire our citizens.