Calgary

Almost 70% of Alberta business owners expect higher revenues in 2018, survey says

Alberta businesses plan to hire more people and invest in their operations this year, according to a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada that showed optimism about the economy is on the upswing in the province.

'They believe that their sales are going to increase … they plan to hire more people and they plan to invest'

As Alberta continues to recover from the oil price shock, small- and medium-sized businesses say they are planning to invest. (Leslie Kramer/CBC)

Alberta businesses plan to hire more people and invest in their operations this year, according to a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada that showed optimism about the economy is on the upswing in the province.

According to the survey, investments by small- and medium-sized businesses in Alberta should rise by 12 per cent this year — the second-highest increase in the country next to B.C. at 17 per cent.

The cross-Canada survey conducted by BDC found Alberta-based operations are bullish on the economy and looking to grow.  

"The main reason is they are a bit more confident about the economy, 2017 has been a good year in Alberta, the year of the recovery, and as a result, people are a bit more confident," said Pierre Cléroux, BDC's chief economist. 

"They believe that their sales are going to increase in 2018, they plan to hire more people and they plan to invest in their business."

Alberta second to B.C.

According to the survey, Alberta's businesses will also invest more per business than any other region in Canada.

Most investments across Canada involve so-called intangible assets like training, intellectual property, research and development, as well as investments in acquisitions. 

In Alberta, 35 per cent of small- and medium-sized businesses (SME) said they planned to hire in 2018.

To the east, Saskatchewan is looking less confident with overall SME investment expected to decrease by 26 per cent. 

BDC says business confidence in Alberta is at its highest point in the past three years, with 68 per cent saying they expect to see increased revenue this year. 

Boomers moving on

And while businesses in some regions cite labour shortages as an impediment to growth, that's not an issue in Alberta as the economy recovers. 

Cléroux says investment should help with the province's unemployment levels. 

"When businesses are investing, this is creating jobs, especially more in the mid-terms," he said. "So this is good for job creation and this is good for stimulating the economy."

Another factor that should contribute to growth in most regions of Canada, including Alberta, is the intention to invest in acquisitions at a time when many boomers are moving on. 

"So we're expecting to see a lot of business transition in 2018," said Cléroux. "Older people are looking for buyers, and according to our research, a lot of buyers are looking to grow their business by acquisition."