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Small Businesses at the Heart of the Innovation Economy

(Ottawa – October 16, 2023) – Small businesses have always been the backbone of Ontario’s economy, a driving force behind innovation and economic growth in the province. These resilient enterprises generate new ideas, create jobs and foster community resilience. This year, the theme of the Ottawa Board of Trade (OBOT) and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) annual Small Business Week Campaign is Small Business, Big Ideas. The campaign is partnering with Desjardins Group to underscore the impact and potential of small business innovation and the importance of supporting these businesses beyond recovery and toward growth.


“Small businesses have a vital role in enriching Ottawa’s community and economy. This small business week, we celebrate the hard-working entrepreneurs and their big ideas, which drive innovation and bring communities together,” said Sueling Ching, President and CEO of OBOT. “As small businesses continue to face numerous challenges, action by the government and private sector will be crucial to ensure small businesses in Ottawa move on from survival to growth.”


Small business owners across the province continue to grapple with compounding effects from the pandemic, including labour shortages, declining employee mental health, rising inflation, and repayment of debt.  However, they have and continue to demonstrate remarkable adaptability and resilience, with many pivoting to new business models, embracing digital technologies, and finding innovative ways to serve their communities.


To sustain this momentum and foster further innovation, we call on the Ontario Government to continue taking action to foster small business success and prioritizing the following:


  • Develop and scale digitization funding and training programs for small businesses and make it easier for businesses to access them.
  • Improve access to private capital and credit for small businesses through a combination of tax policies, capital market reforms, and loan guarantees.
  • Offer targeted support to help small businesses invest in workplace mental health.
  • Continue to procure from non-profits, non-profit social enterprises and co-operatives to meet the provincial government’s target of $3 billion in contracts awarded to small businesses by 2026.


“At the heart of every successful enterprise is a big idea, hard-working entrepreneurs, and a supportive business ecosystem,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, OCC. “We are proud to partner with Desjardins Group to bring attention to the role that small businesses play in driving innovation across Ontario. With over 97.7% of businesses in Ontario being small businesses, this poses various opportunities to invest in these businesses, enabling them to stay competitive.”



About the Ottawa Board of Trade:

The Ottawa Board of Trade is the voice of business and a key advocate for economic development in the national capital region. Our mission is to cultivate a thriving world class business community, one that drives community prosperity and builds an affordable, inclusive, and sustainable city. We also provide programs and services that help our members grow their business and their teams. We are an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit association. We work with partners, staff and volunteers that are aligned with our values of collaboration, determination, future thinking, integrity, and passion.


Backgrounder: Ontario Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Advocacy and Resources





  • In partnership with the Government of Canada, the OCC delivers the Canada Digital Adoption Program Grow Your Business Online grant.  Through this program, small business owners can receive a micro-grant worth up to $2,400 to help get their business online, give their e-commerce presence a boost, or digitalize business operations. Grant recipients must commit to maintaining their digital adoption strategy for at least six months. To learn more, click here.
  • The Talent Opportunities Program, delivered by the OCC with funding from the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program, helps employers located anywhere in Canada hire college and university students. Eligible candidates may receive a wage subsidy up to $7,000 for each ‘net new’ placement. For more details, click here.
  • Providing small businesses with the tools and supports, including in-person workshops, webinars and online resources, they need to help businesses understand the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, why and how to become a more inclusive employer, and how to hire and retain talent from the persons with disabilities labour pool through the Discover Ability Network.