While a common belief is that recession means a tough time for businesses, it’s not always the case.
Just ask Erin Kelly.
The executive director of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce said this is actually a good time for businesses, at least in the nation’s capital.
“Ottawa is doing better than a lot of cities because this is a knowledge-driven workforce and the presence of the federal government makes it a good market for a lot of these businesses,” she said. “The talent here is a really unique advantage that we have.
“We have the most educated population in Canada,” she said. “It enables us to bounce back more quickly. Engineers and PhDs can start new companies in the space of 12 to 18 months and be successful.”
It’s a good time to start a business, Kelly said.
“If you’re building a company during the downturn, by the time it picks up again, you’re ready,” she said. “And it’s a good time to advertise because the rates are lower and there isn’t so much competition for eyeballs.”
To retain Ottawa’s top talent, Carleton University has partnered with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) and the City of Ottawa to create the Lead to Win program, which helps professionals launch new companies. The program is launching 59 new companies today.
These companies have a good chance of succeeding simply because they are located in the area, Kelly said.
“We attract investment because we’ve got the talent,” she said.
The proximity to the Quebec border also helps. “You’ve got a workforce here that is bilingual … and you’re (close) to Toronto and Montreal.”
The government is often a first big customer for many companies, she said.
Other features that draw businesses and businesspeople to Ottawa include a more stable real estate market and “fantastic geography,” Kelly said.
“You can drive 15 minutes to the ski hills. The lakes are clean and Mooney’s Bay is fantastic, a beach in the centre of town. We’re the fourth largest city in Canada, but we still have a lot of green space.”