Burman University opens Small Business Centre on campus

Burman University School of Business Chair and Professor Dr. Louicius Michel is presented with a certificate marking the opening of the Small Business Centre by Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 in front of the Burman University Administration Building. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Burman University is chipping in to help small business thrive in the community.

On Tuesday during the Welcome Back Bash, the School of Small Business formally opened its Small Business Centre, which aims to bring students, faculty and small businesses together to boost the economic climate in the area and strengthen business throughout central Alberta.

“When you have small businesses dying, you have a decrease in wealth creation and it’s not good for the province, it’s not good for the country, it’s not good for our city, or for the corridor. As a school for business we say we can help with that,” said Dr. Louicius Michel, School of Business chair and professor.

“We’re creating this kind of program to help businesses be prosperous and profitable, retain the younger generations and keep the economic advantage in the corridor of Edmonton and Calgary.”

The creation of the Small Business Centre stemmed from Statistics Canada data released in 2013 on Small and Medium-sized Enterprizes (SMEs), which Michel says is still relevant today. That data showed SMEs represent 99.7 per cent of businesses in Canada,  with 97.9 being small businesses. Together, SMEs employed 10.5 million people, or 90.3 per cent of private sector workers.

Contributing 51-56 per cent of Canadian GDP, or wealth of the nation, and 30-33 per cent of provincial GDP, they’re crucial to not only the local economy, but Canada’s economy as a whole, however, Michel says those businesses are dying at a rate of 53 per cent.

At first, their response was to use its School of Small Business, in partnership with local business leaders, to create a small business incubator – a “hospital” of sorts to help local area businesses wounded by any number of factors – the economy, industry and market challenges or otherwise – heal and slow how quickly they disappeared. Michel, along with John McDowell, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, approached local municpalities including Lacombe, and Lacombe County, in search of funding support, but were ultimately forced to alter their plans.

“We took a step back on that business incubation project because of funding issues because the government is in deep program review right now and the funding is not available yet to make that happen, so we’re working with the Small Business Centre as a step towards the business incubation project,” said Michel.

“What we are going to do, in a very short term, is take it to the downtown core, closer to businesses. We’re not going to keep it necessarily on campus…and we’re working with some partners to make that happen.”

The business centre is looking to work with 10-15 businesses at a time, and there are three businesses they’ve worked with.

So far, it’s been successful.

“They like it a lot and I can tell you based on student review, it’s the first time ever we have a perfect score in student satisfaction – 100 per cent – based on what we have started doing with the small businesses already and we’re looking to do more,” he said.

“It’s a benefit for businesses, benefit to our students to have hands-on experience and a benefit for government as well as the unemployment rate is going to be on a lower level…Small and medium size businesses make up 90.3 per cent of private sector jobs, so we need to keep that momentum going.”

For more information, contact the Small Business Centre at (403)782-3381 ext. 4095 or email them at busreception@burmanu.ca.

Burman University marked the official opening of their Small Business Centre on campus Tuesday evening alongside local area dignitaries and officials from all three levels of government. The Small Business Centre aims to encourage and support small and medium-sized business in the area and diversify the local economy. Pictured (left to right) are Central Alberta Economic Partnership Executive Director Kimberley Worthington; Dr. Louicius Michel, School of Business chair and professor; Lacombe City Councillor Jonathan Jacobson; Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins; Burman University President Loren Agrey; Town of Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole; Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr; and Burman University Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences John McDowell, Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

 

 

 

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