The business climate in Nova Scotia is very positive, despite the findings of a recent survey conducted for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The CFIB national survey included only 100 of the thousands of small and medium-sized businesses in Nova Scotia. It suggests confidence and optimism among those surveyed in Nova Scotia ranked lowest of all provinces except P.E.I. “The results of the study appear out of touch with the majority of economic indicators in Nova Scotia,” said Richard Hurlburt, Minister of Economic Development. “The province’s unemployment rate is still very low and employment levels continue to increase, and retail sales in Nova Scotia last year were the highest in any of the Atlantic provinces.” While government continues to attract new businesses and jobs to the province, it also continues to look ahead at projects that can help improve the economy. Just two of those would include developing an Atlantic Gateway and providing complete access to broadband throughout the province. Both of those major projects will benefit small and medium businesses. “Instead of talking doom and gloom, what we really need are people who are willing to work together to overcome any problems we may have,” said Mr. Hurlburt. “For example, attracting and keeping the next generation of skilled workers is a shared responsibility of government and business.” Officials from Economic Development, Nova Scotia Business Inc. and regional development agencies are talking with businesses in this province, face to face, every day. These discussions identify problems, probe challenges and issues, and provide suggested solutions. Preliminary data for 2007 from about 300 businesses indicate the majority are positive about the current economic climate in the province and almost half say it is better today than five years ago. More than half believe the business climate will be better in Nova Scotia five years from now. A recent Statistics Canada Business Confidence Survey for the second quarter of 2007 suggests Nova Scotia ranks third in projected rise in production and orders, and fourth in intention to increase employment. As well, Statistics Canada shows Nova Scotia had the fastest-growing information and communications technology sector in the country between 2005 and 2006. Nova Scotia’s decision to maintain its small-business tax-rate reduction at 11 per cent, saves more than $100 million in taxes for small- and medium-sized business. Government continues to help businesses in other ways, such as cutting the paperwork burden by 20 per cent over the next three years; helping small and medium enterprises gain the skills they need to enter the global marketplace with the Exportability Program; lowering personal income tax; cutting the large corporation capital tax; and reducing the debt.