Moncton’s diversified small businesses bolster local economy despite obstacles
Posted on September 01, 2021 | Sponsored Content | 0 Comments
As Greater Moncton’s small businesses fight the pandemic with determination, skill, and derring-do, enterprises owned by women, ethnic minorities, and new Canadians are among those leading the charge.
“The urban area is booming not just because the entrepreneurial spirit is increasingly vibrant here; it’s also increasingly diverse here,” says Donald Savoie, a Université de Moncton expert in economic development.
Adds Kevin Silliker, Director of Economic Development for the City of Moncton: “When you consider that many small businesses face market, capital and labour-access problems, the grit they’re showing truly stands out.”
On Elmwood Drive in the city’s east side, there’s the Barakat African Cuisine restaurant and Le Boabab African, an international grocery store. On downtown St. George Street, there’s India King Family Restaurant and Bar, Epoch Chemistry Coffee House, and Lost and Found Ice Cream. Nearby, on Botsford Street, there’s La Station Workspace, which supports entrepreneurs with administrative and operational services.
Kane Kang, who launched Jassy Boutique on St. George with his wife Jassy Kim in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, says that while the past 11 months have been “tricky”, he doesn’t regret their start-up. “It’s not the best time, but everybody knows that. We concentrate more in luxury teas, so we don’t need a lot of people visiting the shop.”
In fact, the boutique specializes in upmarket latte, loose teas, and espresso (also cookies and sandwiches) and provides a glittering display space for antique china from all over the world. Kang, a former documentarian, says he and his wife wanted out of the rat race in their native Seoul, South Korea, and chose Moncton after travelling for months around North America searching for a new home. “We’ve stayed determined and, so, the business is growing again,” he says. “Moncton really is the best place for us. The people are very kind.”
Geneviève Nolet, the proprietor of USVA Spa Nordik – which offers a “thermal experience inspired by a Nordic ritual dating back more than 2000 years” – on Mountain Road in the north end of the city says last March certainly wasn’t her happiest period either. But, says, “I started thinking, let’s not just cry and go home to wait for reopening. Let’s put this in a very positive way and change our mindset.” Two years after the Québec native launched, just before the pandemic hit, she shut down the business as a pre-emptive strike. “It was perfect timing for me as a business owner to sit down and look at the business as a whole, and evaluate every section of it, and see where we could make changes,” she says.
Now, she’s back leaner, but better, than ever. “Of course, closing for three months really made a hole financially and it was quite a tough time,” she says. “But now, since we reopened last June, I feel like the business has been going way more smoothly than before. It was challenging, but in a good way.”
For Rachel Leger at Missing Link Technologies on Driscoll Crescent in Moncton’s west end, the challenge over the past year has been more about keeping ahead of the telecom, software and data company’s growth curve. “It was certainly one of the busiest years we’ve had since I joined in 2016,” says the firm’s “People Operations” Rachel Leger. “We’ve been hiring quite robustly. We already had people in Ottawa, in Halifax and in Perth Andover, NB.
“We were working from home before that became cool. We had the technology in place to switch environments in a short period of time. We’re looking for technologists right now in St. John’s, NL, New Brunswick and Ottawa.”
According to Silliker, Moncton is as ready as ever for this sort of enterprise. “Over the past four years, more than 10,000 people from all over Canada and the world have moved into the community” he says. “Our entrepreneurs are showing us how we can all move forward despite adversities.” •
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