Small Business and Co-op Weeks officially launched
Innovation PEI promotes assistance programs
ABRAM-VILLAGE, PEI – Oct. 16, 2012 – The Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI (CCAFLIPE) and the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É. (CDC) respectively launched 2012 Small Business Week and 2012 Co-op Week during a kickoff breakfast at Centre Expo-Festival in Abram-Village Oct. 15.
These two weeks are held simultaneously throughout the country from Oct. 14-20. The Abram-Village ceremony represented the official kickoff for the Island’s Acadian and francophone community. One of the event’s other objectives was to honor and thank entrepreneurs and co-operators for their contribution to the local and provincial economy.
During her talk to the 31 participants at the breakfast, the Chamber spokesperson Jeannette Arsenault said “Sometimes, when we’re the operator of a small business, we can assume our contribution to the economy isn’t very substantial, especially when comparing ourselves to huge multinational enterprises.”
However, she added, “We have to remind ourselves that it isn’t the huge corporations but rather small and medium-sized businesses that are the cornerstone of the Canadian economy. They account for 99.8 per cent of all Canadian companies and employ more than 60 per cent of private sector workers.”
The spokesperson reminded the entrepreneurs at the event that they create jobs and contribute significantly to the community, provincial and national economy. “And of course, you offer good products and services; otherwise, you would no longer be in business. So be proud of saying that you’re an entrepreneur and that you are doing your fair share.”
Angèle Arsenault, president of the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É., said during this International Year of Co-ops, PEI boasts 114 co-ops and credit unions having a combined total of 87,267 members. The co-op sector provides work for about 900 Islanders. Combined sales and assets surpass the $700 million mark.
“From a francophone perspective, the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É. represents 18 co-ops that have more than 8,500 members, more than 250 employees and assets surpassing $80 million,” she added proudly.
And from a national perspective, there are 9,300 co-ops with 17 million members. These co-ops, which provide work for more than 175,000 employees, have sales and assets worth $225 billion.
“So as you can see, the co-op movement in Canada and on PEI is extremely powerful and important, especially for our rural communities. The slogan of the International Year of Co-operatives is ‘Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World’. That is so true!” Arsenault said.
She concluded her comments by presenting a list of free events planned for the week.
Two other breakfast partners also spoke at the event. Paul Gillespie, loan officer with the CBDC Central PEI, explained the various entrepreneurial services and types of loans offered by his organization, which is based in Summerside. The CBDC was the breakfast’s main sponsor.
Giselle Bernard, community development officer for the provincial government, spoke of the various services and supports provided by the Island’s five rural action centers. She mentioned the one located in Wellington is the only one that provides a bilingual service for both entrepreneurial and community clients.
Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant also got the opportunity to congratulate the entrepreneurs and co-operators and to officially declare, in English, the opening of the two weeks.
Breakfast guest speaker Gerald Arsenault, business development officer with Innovation PEI, generated a fair amount of interest among participants as he listed off the various technical and financial support programs available for businesses.
He particularly focusses on programs geared towards small businesses such as those present at the breakfast, including grants for web sites, human resource planning, marketing, business plans, specialized training and handcraft development. He also mentioned that his division can sometimes guarantee loans for capital purchases.
CUTLINE: Following the Oct. 5 kickoff breakfast for Small Business Week and Co-op Week for the Island’s francophone community, Angele Arsenault, left, president of the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É., and Jeannette Arsenault, spokesperson for the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI, presented a gift to guest speaker Gerald Arsenault, business development officer with Innovation PEI.
For more information:
Raymond J. Arsenault
Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI
Co-op development officer
Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É.