New Brunswick municipalities have a long way to go to become small business-friendly, according to a recent report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The report, Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities in 2012, surveyed CFIB members in 103 municipalities across the country, comparing 14 indicators, including business tax burden, the number of business start-ups and the optimism of small business owners.
Saint John ranked 78 overall, second worst in Atlantic Canada after Cape Breton, and worst in the province.
But Saint John Board of Trade officials contend there's been a change in attitude in the city since the surveys were conducted several months ago.
The business advocacy group has been meeting regularly with members of Saint John common council to discuss the challenges and opportunities for new companies in the city, said President Imelda Gilman.
She believes council's interest is a positive sign for entrepreneurs, she said.
'It's probably getting Saint Johners to believe in us; that's the biggest thing.' —Kiera Fraser, small business owner
Kiera Fraser, the owner of Je Suis Prest, a boutique in city's uptown, agrees. The City now appears to be more open to the issues of small businesses, she said.
Fraser contends the biggest challenge she faces as a small business owner is beyond the city's control.
"It's probably getting Saint Johners to believe in us; that's the biggest thing, to get the people who walk by our stores every day through Brunswick Square to come through the doors and give us a chance," she said.
"In retail it's tough to gain attention of people who are used to jumping across the border, or head to Moncton for their goods.
"It's just getting people through the door and having faith and making them realize that shopping local does have an impact on their economy and impacts their everyday life."