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Home-Based Business Find Increasing Community Acceptance

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 13 November 2001 00:00

What do Nunavut's Iqaluit, Ontario's Brampton and Newfoundland's Conception Bay South have in common?

The third annual survey to identify the Canadian community most friendly to home-based businesses, sponsored in part by the British Columbia-based Home Business Report , selected these spots as the three best places to start and operate a home-based business or HBB.

"Our data from surveying 90 Canadian communities show that home-based businesses positively impact our economy," said publisher Barbara Mowat.

"It's good to report some good business news in this time of economic upheaval."

HBBs are hard to count especially now that they may exist entirely in cyberspace. Experts estimate that 1 in 4 Canadians work from home and that number will only increase. Technology makes it easier and easier for people to operate home-based businesses.

Tough economic times have typically been linked to increased HBB start-ups as people look for alternative income opportunities.

What makes these three communities so HBB-friendly?

According to Home Business Report, smaller communities are more likely to formally support HBB-created employment than larger cities.

  • Brampton , a community northwest of Toronto, opened the Brampton Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) as a storefront in the downtown core in 1998. With the support of high-powered backers such as the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Microsoft Canada, the SBEC operates like an executive business centre for local HBB owners.

  • Iqaluit, Canada's most northern capital city, is the largest city in Nunavut and isolated by arctic climate and enormous road-less distances. To help employment expand, many agencies, including the Baffin Business Development Centre, Aboriginal Business Canada and Kakivak Association, band together to issue loans, mentor and educate.

  • Conception Bay South's major economic policy is keeping young people at home by providing job opportunities. Located near the capital of St. John's this town is the fastest growing in the province. To ensure young entrepreneurs can compete, the town developed the "Business Tax Incentive for Youth Entrepreneurs," which gives youth a five-year business tax break as long as their venture does not compete with existing businesses. The town also waives various fees for these entrepreneurs and has approved new zoning bylaws to distinguish between home offices and home occupations. Educational programs include HBB trade fairs, seminars, government and industry-sponsored learning programs and college courses.

Survey results were compiled to create a set of best practices that may be helpful if you are considering a HBB or looking for a new community to call home. Here's the gist:

  • Zoning bylaws: Has the community revised its bylaws to allow HBBs to operate and flourish? For more on this topic, go to: Canadian Home-based Businesses Legal or Not?

  • Municipal policy: When developing new urban areas, does the community promote the construction of buildings that encourage home offices and home occupations? Are new sub-divisions combining light-industrial, commercial and HBB zoning along with residential developments to create integrated work-living areas? When developing residential areas, are builders installing "smart community" wiring and cabling along with water, sewage and electrical connections?

  • Education: Does the community offer training that focuses specifically on [starting and operating] HBBs? Are mentoring programs available in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, corporate partners, or educational institutions?

  • Recognition: Does the community encourage all HBB owners to obtain a business licence and attach benefits to its business licence fee, like access to development funds, listings in business directories, business information distribution, and training? Can HBBs bid on municipal and other government contracts? Does the community ensure that it is, and is seen to be, fair to all small businesses?

  • Communication: To encourage effective communication, does the community support fledgling HBB associations?

When evaluating your community or another town, researchers encourage you to look for municipal governments that think about business development as a community-wide need and engage as many community partners as possible. Instead of merely looking for a home, HBB owners must also look for a "wholesome business environment that includes combining all the resources a town has to offer" -- in other words, a welcoming home for your home-based business.

For more articles by P.J. Wade, please press here .

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