June 11, 2004

Small business is the heart and soul of rural Ontario communities and their economy.  In the City of Kawartha Lakes, small business is big business!
Kawartha Lakes Small Business Week is a community-wide, week long series of events that coincide with National Small Business Week.  The City of Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation (KLCFDC) organizes this annual extravaganza to promote small business and increase awareness of its importance to the region.  Andrew Wallen, General Manager of the KLCFDC, says, “Statistically, a small business is less than 50 employees and a micro-business less than 5.  On a national average, that would take in over 95% of all Canadian businesses.  In the City of Kawartha Lakes, we estimate that figure to be as high as 99%.”  The Canadian economy is built on small business, and the Week was organized to recognize and award the accomplishments of local business owners and managers in the area.
Held in late October, many events are planned to celebrate the week, including information seminars, the Annual Kawartha Lakes Innovation Awards, and a trade show.  Two major new events were planned for 2003:  The Kawartha Lakes Home and Consumer Show; and the Business Seminar Series.
The Kawartha Lakes Home and Consumer Show provides consumers with a trade-show experience to see what some of the areas’ local businesses have to offer, from furniture and home restoration, to leisure vehicles and business equipment.
The Business Seminar Series had professional speakers providing valuable information for anyone in the area with a desire to learn more about owning and operating a small business.  Seminar topics ranged from marketing and taxes, to business networking and maximizing resources.  Existing and prospective business owners alike were welcome to attend.
The KLCFDC office worked closely with all three Chambers of Commerce, the municipality of the City of Kawartha Lakes and local media to organize events that will help people realize the positive impact of small business (to) their area.  Organizers hope the business community benefits not only from the information and various activities, but also from experiencing improved sales as a result of the increased awareness.  The Weeks’ events have spread to neighbouring areas, including Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls, as well as the area’s main commercial centre - Lindsay.
Nearly 2000 people directly benefited from the Kawartha Lakes Small Business Week; this includes seminar attendees, the Innovation Award nominations and winners, the businesses promoted through the various sponsorships opportunities available, and those who promote themselves at the Home and Consumer Show.  An estimated 1,000 people attended the new Show last fall.  With all the Weeks’ organization and planning, countless partnerships and small business support channels were also developed.
Long-term benefits for the community will continue to grow, as people recognize more and more the value of supporting local small businesses.
KLCFDC’s Small Business Week activities are in the running for the Ontario Association of CFDC’s Annual Awards Program, in the category of Community Economic Development; a win in this category would provide both immediate recognition, as well as long-term marketability.
“Demonstrating the strength of small business, should also serve to improve the prospects of future advancement and growth for entrepreneurs and small owner/operators within our community” says Wallen.  “The significance of local small business reflects the strength and unity of the people living in the City of Kawartha Lakes.”  The long-term success and spirit of the Kawartha Lakes Small Business Week can be admired, as it also promotes the importance of small business throughout rural Ontario.
This event has set the pace for community development, growth and vitality for rural Ontario.  Canada is built on small businesses – and Kawartha Lakes Small Business Week lets them shine.