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Too Few Entrepreneurs Able to Scale Up Their Business

Ontario Chamber of Commerce Report Identifies Six Barriers to Growth

TORONTO, ON, April 21, 2016: Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the report, Breaking Barriers: Ontario’s Scale Up Challenge, which identifies the major roadblocks preventing Ontario businesses from expanding and presents recommendations to best support business owners in taking their ventures to the next stage of growth. According to the report, based on interviews with nearly two dozen business owners, sector associations, and other organizations, as well as a survey of over 350 Ontario business owners, too few entrepreneurs are continuing to build their business, or “scale up”, in the province.

The report adds to a recent chorus of voices calling for governments, the business community, and other actors to build on the province’s entrepreneurial spirit by creating the conditions to enable our most promising firms to scale.

To position Ontario for long-term success, the report proposes recommendations to address six specific barriers preventing businesses from growing, which include a lack of access to talent with scale up experience, gaps in the right kinds of financing, and lower incentives to growth offered through public programs.

Chief among the OCC’s recommendations are for governments to improve businesses’ access to talent in the short-term by creating a scale-up visa to quicken access to essential international managerial talent. According to our survey, 63 percent of businesses that are looking to grow face a talent shortage. The OCC also encourages governments to gain a better understanding of where current gaps exist in the Canadian financing landscape.

Other recommendations of the report include:
Realign public programs and incentives to focus supports on high-growth firms
Encourage greater international trade activity by linking more business support programs to trade
Improve access to public and private anchor customers by leveraging procurement to strategically invest in growing businesses
Enable accurate measurement and monitoring of the scale up challenge by ensuring collaboration between Statistics Canada and industry groups to collect and publicize relevant data

The OCC’s survey also revealed that the cost of doing business remains a top issue for Ontario employers as 69 percent of business owners looking to grow identified this as a barrier. Through its advocacy efforts on other key policy issues, the OCC continues to highlight the cost of doing business as a major challenge facing Ontario’s business community.



Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce: “The release of Breaking Barriers coincides with initiatives currently underway by the governments of Canada and Ontario to help our most promising firms scale up. We have an incredible opportunity to leverage this alignment across government and the business community to tackle this challenge.”

Sean Mullin, Executive Director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship: “Supporting the work of innovators and entrepreneurs across the country is integral to Canada’s future productivity and economic prosperity. Canada and Ontario stand to benefit from focusing efforts on supporting our most promising new firms and helping them succeed on a global stage.”

Jérôme Nycz, Executive Vice President of BDC Capital: “BDC’s sole purpose is to help Canadian entrepreneurs succeed and grow. While our Growth and Transition Capital Team already supports many entrepreneurs with flexible, patient “scale-up” financing, we see the need for more. That is why we are already exploring additional ways we can help more entrepreneurs find the specialized financing they need to bring their business to the next level. Last year, BDC provided nearly $1.2-billion in lending to Ontario’s small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, $100-million of which was allocated to high-growth, high-potential entrepreneurs in the province.”

Survey conducted online between March 3 and April 11, 2016. N=359.


Learn more about the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Media Contact:
Michelle Kelly
Senior Communications Advisor
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
E. michellekelly@occ.ca
T. 416.482.5222 ext. 2410

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