DAILY NEWS Jan 31, 2013 7:00 AM - 0 comments

Ontario biz confidence indicates plan to expand

But most are unsure about future of Ontario economy

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2013-01-31

The Ontario Business Confidence Index shows that most Ontario businesses are confident in their own outlook (72%) and are planning to expand over the next five years (60%). However, the same businesses are unsure about the overall direction of Ontario's economy (41% express confidence).

The index is a survey of 2,386 businesses and was conducted as part of Emerging Stronger 2013, a business-driven economic agenda for Ontario released today by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its network of local chambers, along with their research partner, the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto. Emerging Stronger 2013 is a transformational agenda aimed at accelerating Ontario's economic growth. It identifies Ontario's challenges and advantages, and sets out practical and detailed recommendations for government and business.

Some of its key recommendations include: enabling better access to capital for startups and small businesses through crowd funding; encouraging businesses to employ more Aboriginal people and people with disabilities; opening up more government services to private sector and not-for-profit delivery; utilizing Ontario's large immigrant population to grow exports; and, allowing more employers to participate in training.

The agenda comes days after Kathleen Wynne was named Ontario's next premier and is intended to provide a non-partisan platform that should appeal to all three parties.

"The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has criss-crossed this province engaging and hearing from local chambers and their 60,000 members," says Allan O'Dette, CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. "We are confident that Ontario has all the assets to prosper, but we need to act collectively, strategically, and with purpose."

"This Index is one of the largest surveys ever conducted of business opinion in Ontario," according to Dave Scholz, VP Leger Marketing, the pollster. "Business sentiment is very much 'glass half-full' in the province right now."

Among the survey findings are:

* Ontario is falling behind on productivity: only 10 percent of respondents believe their sector is a global leader in productivity.

* Some sectors are much more confident than others: the financial services sector is the most confident in their own outlook (74 percent say their business will expand in the next 5 years).

* Businesses are struggling to diversify their exports: 45 percent of Ontario businesses view China as the most critical market in the next 5-10 years. Yet only 1.4 percent of Ontario's exports are bound for China.

* The debt and deficit remain big concerns: 26 percent of businesses believe Ontario is going in the right direction when it comes to restoring fiscal balance.

* Some regions are more confident than others: Greater Hamilton Area businesses are most likely to respond that the economy is heading in the right direction (48 percent), while Eastern Ontario businesses are the least likely (36 percent).



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