by Heidi Riley
The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated Small Business Week in October with a virtual presentation featuring stories of resilience from local small business owners.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the PEI Economy,” says Chamber President Colin Younker. “PEI has more than 6,000 small businesses, which employ almost 40,000 people. That is half the working population.”
“Many businesses have been hit hard and are struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Penny Walsh MacGuire, CEO, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce. “We can all lend our support by shopping local.”
This event was funded in whole or part through the Canada-PEI Labour Market Agreements.
Provincial measures in reaction to COVID-19
“Leading up to March 2020, we were on our way to a fourth balanced budget,” says Premier Dennis King. “No one could have predicted the jarring social impact of COVID-19 on everyone, including the business community, which has seen operations change dramatically.
“To date, the province has spent nearly $200 million in direct and indirect relief and support programs for the business community and for Islanders. And I am grateful for support from the federal government, and the size and speed of delivery of the programs.
“The rapid reduction in revenue and laying off long-time loyal staff has been very hard on local businesses. Some of our great tourism businesses did not even open this year. The financial and mental toll it has taken on the business community has been devastating.
“Businesses have had to quickly pivot in the face of a changing global marketplace and increase their online presence while learning how to safely open their doors to Islanders.
“I believe 2021 will be a different year than 2020. I hope we will see Canadian travel without isolation rules, which will bring many tourists back to PEI. That will be the first plank in coming back to where we need to be. There will be some pain along the way as we learn to live with COVID-19. We need to work together to build our economy back.”
Local entrepreneurs pivot and succeed in the face of COVID-19
- Jeremy MacFadyen, PEI Seafood Box
- Julia Campbell, JEMS Boutique
- Chef Michael Smith, Inn at Bay Fortune