CALGARY – Robert Vidra has been planning special events in Calgary since 1996. The pandemic almost flattened business, with more than 90 events postponed.
“My company saw an 80 percent drop in sales,” said Vidra, CEO and owner of Simply Elegant.
Vidra operates Skyline, a venue on Kensington Road NW. In mid-March, when the pandemic broke out, he had to lay off 65 employees.
“This is not a business for me where I go home from nine to five. This is my life and the life of my employees,” said Vidra.
Vidra is one of the Calgary entrepreneurs struggling to survive a pandemic that has been brutal to many of the city’s industries.
The resilience of entrepreneurs like Vidra is recognized during Small Business Week.
“These times have challenged us all in every possible way,” said Murray Sigler, interim CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. “We know there are still many challenges ahead, but we also know that Calgary’s entrepreneurship is unbeatable.”
On Thursday, the Chamber hosted its Small Business Week Summit online.
“While 2020 has disrupted and canceled many things, it cannot undo the determination and determination of small business owners,” said Sigler.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses estimates that one in five small businesses in Alberta will be at risk of closure before the end of the pandemic.
“The government has no idea what a small business is right now. You can’t ask someone dog walker or whatever to go home and stay home, and it’s surprising how many of those companies are out there “said Doug Gablehaus. CPS Accounting Services.
Gablehaus is a small business consultant who says Ottawa has no exposure to how small some small businesses really are.
“If you look at the statistics, the vast majority over 50 percent of our economy is made up of these small businesses – and if the government comes along and tells them first to go home and stay home, it’s just not that sustainable,” said Gablehaus.
“And then,” he added, “come and offer those subsidies and then come to the vast majority of small business companies and say they don’t qualify!”
According to Gablehaus, subsidies are not sustainable and it is difficult to find clear information about who qualifies for what. He said the government needs a better plan to help small business owners than the one it has now.
“What you should have done was upside down and said we’re going to refund some of the taxes you paid last year because now look at the people who have really supported the economy and who are getting their hands on money fast have to apply – they already know all the figures, ”said Gablehaus.
Vidra said he was supported by the government, but it was also stressful.
“We are currently qualifying for subsidies, but it’s a constant threat,” he said. “It’s month after month, we don’t know what’s going on. You have massive concerns about what you’re going to do.”
He said he’s trying to stay optimistic because he knows people are booking his venue for future dates.