Small business struggles to stay open amid downtown Calgary vacancy rate

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WATCH ABOVE: Calgary restaurant Sonoma on 9th relocated to the city to boost business, but the downtown vacancy rate is hurting its bottom line. Where is a small business owner to turn when both money and time are running out? Bindu Suri explains – Nov 23, 2016

The downtown vacancy rate in Calgary is taking its toll on small businesses that now have fewer customers as a result.

Eric Bouchard thought he was taking a step forward, but his business, Sonoma on 9th, is at a standstill.

“I feel like we’re doing everything right. We have a great staff, great location and great menu,” Bouchard said.

He relocated last year, taking advantage of lower lease rates in the core.

“We are not making any money,” he admitted.

READ MORE: Nearly one third of Calgary’s office space could be empty by 2018, says real estate firm

After a decade of sweet success, the business is starting to look more like the downtown office towers that once provided business.

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“There’s nothing available for the small business owners. All of my employees would get an EI cheque, but as a small business owner, we are not entitled to that.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its members feel there is too much government regulation.

READ MORE: 20% of Calgary downtown office space vacant, highest level in over 30 years

“The total tax burden, regulation, wage pressure. They’re not looking for handouts. They want the government to create the right conditions for businesses to thrive,” CFIB’s Amber Ruddy said.

Government-funded Business Link is seeing an increase in the number of people who want to start a new business.

The non-profit organization has received 12,000 inquires this year. That’s up 4,000 from last year.

The organization encourages business owners to reach out before their business is on the brink of collapse.

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