Small but mighty: Alberta’s small businesses

By ATB Economics 22 October 2019 1 min read

It’s Small Business Week so The Owl is taking a look at Alberta’s small businesses.

Alberta is awash in small businesses. As of June, there were 173,314 small businesses operating in the province. This represents 13.5 per cent of the almost 1.3 million small businesses in the country.

Industry Canada defines small businesses as those with between 1 and 99 paid employees (other than the owner). Most businesses fall into this category. Only 2 per cent of businesses in Alberta have more than 99 employees. Businesses with 500 employees or more make up just 0.2 per cent of the total. The same is true for Canada as a whole.

Smaller small businesses are the most numerous. About 60 per cent of businesses in the province have between one and four paid employees.

Alberta’s small businesses include everything from law firms and dental practices to farms and retail stores. Of course, the oil and gas sector stands out, with 62 per cent of Canada’s small oil and gas extraction and support services businesses calling Alberta home.

More than 250,000 self-employed Albertans who have no paid employees are not included in these numbers. Some of these solo-preneurs will stay that way; others will grow their operations and take on employees. Similarly, some small businesses will stay the same size while others expand, creating jobs and helping the economy grow.

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