Thunder Bay

Revenues, city economy 'stable,' Thunder Bay businesses survey says

Most Thunder Bay businesses say their revenues, and the city's economy, is stable, a new survey shows.

Results of 2019 Business Confidence Index survey released; challenges include costs, red tape

Lakehead University's Camillo Lento was one of the researchers who put together the 2019 Thunder Bay Business Confidence Index. (CBC News)

Most Thunder Bay businesses say their revenues, and the city's economy, is stable, a new survey shows.

That's according to the 2019 Business Confidence Index survey, the results of which were released Wednesday by Thunder Bay Ventures.

A new survey asked Thunder Bay businesses about doing business in the city. We'll hear about the new Thunder Bay Business Confidence Index. Camillo Lento is with Lakehead University's faculty of business administration 5:19

"We had a response of 183 businesses from Thunder Bay," researcher Camillo Lento of Lakehead University said of the survey. "The major findings we can suggest are business, in general, is fairly confident."

The survey was only given to high-level business representatives, such as owners, CEOs, managing directors, or presidents.

Among its findings:

  • 62 per cent of businesses are confident in the Thunder Bay area's economic future
  • 76 per cent say the overall state of the economy is better than it was a year ago
  • 86 per cent say the economy is stable, or moving in a positive director
  • 92 per cent say their company's revenue will be stable, or increase, over the next year

Businesses identified a number of specific positive things about operating in Thunder Bay, as well, Lento said.

"One of the things that we find is that the shop local initiative is picking up," he said. "Also, we're finding a large percentage of smaller businesses, not just the big businesses, are feeling fairly stable with respect to their revenue."

But the survey also identified some challenges faced by local businesses, Lento said.

Costs, red tape among concerns

"The escalating costs of doing business, with respect to various costs such as property taxes, and insurance costs, and hydro, came up the most," he said. "Having more qualified employees in certain trades was another common issue."

Red tape was another issue identified, provincial policies, such as changes to funding programs, have also led to concern for local businesses, Lento said.

Overall, the city's Business Confidence Index — an aggregate measure of the responses to nine questions in the survey — was 99.8.

The questions covered such topics as revenues, revenue expectations, capital expenditures, and the general Thunder Bay economy.

"What we essentially do is equally weigh all nine of these questions, and put them into an overall measure," Lento said. "So, 99.8 is relative to our base year of 2017, which was 100, so there's a slight decline in business confidence from 2017 to 2019."

Lento said the goal is to assemble working groups who can work on ways to address the issues identified in the survey results.

The full report will be published on the Thunder Bay Ventures website.