Cobourg’s size is at the lower end of the 125 cities surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) but it’s doing better than many other cities – even better than the City of Toronto and about the same as Belleville. CFIB says that local governments “control only some of the levers that make cities work. How well these levers are used, however, can make a tremendous difference to local businesses and residents”. But they concede that “while local governments can influence local economic activity, they can’t usually make it happen directly. For that, they need local entrepreneurs to carry the ball — those who risk their own capital, time and effort”. But when municipal governments do it right, “residents and businesses are more likely to make investments”.
Summary of CFIB Report
The report looked at 125 Canadian cities with populations of roughly 20,000 or more – so Cobourg just scraped in. Thirteen factors were given scores then weighted and combined into three categories:
- Presence is a representation of the scale and growth of business ownership – Cobourg scored 16.6 out of 33.3 – there were 29 other cities with this score or higher.
- Perspective covers indicators associated with optimism and growth plans. Cobourg Scored 15.1 out of 33.3 – there were 67 other cities with this score of higher.
- Policy represents indicators associated with the actions local governments take with respect to business taxation and regulation. Cobourg Scored 24.5 out of 33.3 – there were 54 other cities with this score of higher.
These were then combined into an overall score and Cobourg was ranked 51 out of 125 cities. For comparison, Belleville was ranked at 48, Kingston at 108, Peterborough at 63, Toronto at 68 and Toronto periphery at 33.
Cobourg Scores – 2018
|Business establmt growth||Business establmt per capita||Info. culture sector||Self-empl %||Self employed aged 15-34|
|% change||per 100 residents||% of establ.||% of empl.||% of total self-empl.|
- Business establishment growth – per cent change in classified business establishments with employees between June 2017 and June 2018
- Business establishments per capita – only 34 cities had more.
- Information and culture sector – the relative presence of businesses in the information and cultural sector, which includes media and publishing—the theory being that higher numbers of information and cultural business establishments relative to the total suggests a greater local appetite for the exchange of information – only 9 cities had a higher rank than Cobourg’s score of 2.0
- Self-employed % – proportion of individuals that are self-employed
- Self employed aged 15-34 – The presence of larger numbers of younger business owners can suggest that the opportunities and incentives to launch are accelerated, signalling a more robust start-up culture. Cobourg’s score of 8.4% was the lowest of the 125 cities.
|Building permits||Median earnings||Business Barometer||State of business||Full-time hiring|
|% of establ.||$ of Incorp, employers||Index||% good||% yes|
- Building permits – The greater number of building permits per business, the stronger the municipality is at encouraging business investment. There were 88 cities with a higher score than Cobourg’s score of 4.7%
- Median earnings – an indicator of the relative health, well-being and sustainability.
- Business Barometer – An index of expected future business performance – there were 87 cities with a higher score than Cobourg’s score of 56.8
- State of business – percentage of business owners in a ‘good’ state of business – there were only 43 cities with a higher score than Cobourg’s score of 50%
- Full-time hiring – Future full-time hiring expectations
|Municipal property tax||Education property tax||BizPaL|
|Comm./ Res. ratio||Comm./ Res. ratio||1=yes|
- Municipal property tax – The tax ratio is the commercial tax rate divided by the residential tax rate within the community. A low ratio indicates a more equitable distribution of municipal taxation among ratepayers. Only 11 cities had a lower ratio than Cobourg’s. This is not a measure of taxes paid but just relative to residential.
- Education property tax – measures relative load among ratepayers, commercial versus residential.
- BizPaL is an online source of information for permits and licences that may be required to start and grow a business. With the increased usage of BizPaL, businesses have a higher likelihood of succeeding if given the right information.
Overall a good and fair assessment. As usual, the devil is in the details but the Town appears to live up to its reputation as business friendly. However, there are a couple of obvious problems:
- Not enough young people are setting up businesses here;
- The weak Business Barometer indicates too many entrepreneurs are not confident about their future.
CFIB does not offer ideas to help individual communities other than pointing to their weak points. The Press release that they issued was mostly about top (and big) cities but Cobourg was also included in the detailed listings.