• Some of the hardest hit businesses could be eligible for support subsidies

    A variety of businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and, without government subsidies and grants, some businesses could have shut down permanently.  

    The Government of Canada says businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector have been deeply impacted by the pandemic and could now be eligible for a wage and rent subsidy of up to 75 per cent. Some of the hardest-hit businesses affected by the pandemic might be eligible for the Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program.   

    In order to apply for the Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program, you must have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) payroll account on March 15, 2020. For rent subsidies, you must have a business number with the CRA on September 27, 2020. 


    To qualify for the Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program, you must have a 12-month average revenue drop of at least 50 per cent from March 2020 to February 2021 and you must also have a claim period revenue drop of at least 50 per cent.  

    The amount you receive from this subsidy will be based on the amount of revenue you made for the claim period you're applying for. The Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program subsidy will allow employers to rehire workers, help prevent job loss, and ease businesses back into normal operation.  

    Many of the eligibility and calculation rules for the wage subsidy under the Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program are the same as they were for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. 


    Public institutions are not eligible for the subsidy. This includes municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, public universities, colleges and schools, and hospitals. 

    Marilyne Aalhus, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, says Airdrie is a growing city with residential growth in all quadrants. When the city and its population growth, the economy grows too.   

    “It's been a very big roller coaster of uncertainty for businesses in the last two years and will continue to be a challenge. It's not like this pandemic is behind them. Businesses that struggled financially are still trying to recover, and will continue to recover for years.”  

    Businesses in Airdrie say the city is good for business operation, but it needs to improve the cost and availability of land and real estate.  


    Aalhus says there has been a recent boom in home-based businesses in Airdrie. High-priced business real estate in Airdrie forced some businesses to move out of their storefronts and into their home so their business could profit.  

    “Although there have been some closures, the majority of our lease space is spoken for. So that's actually one of the greatest challenges that Airdrie businesses are faced with is really finding an affordable space to call home as a storefront,” says Aalhus.  

    Real estate prices for businesses in Airdrie are decided by the developer, not the government, and are based on the current market rates. Airdrie is a young and growing city so there isn’t a lot of old real estate to be leased, and new real estate is costly. 


    “I think that's why you have seen that uptake of home-based businesses,” says Aalhus, “Some of them have left their storefronts and they've made a change and what their services look like. But others, of course, want to maintain that storefront, and are really trying to negotiate on their own behalf,”   

    To increase the number of businesses and organizations investing in the city, Airdrie City Council has implemented the Business and Investment Attraction Plan which will help provide new employment opportunities for residents as well as attract more businesses to invest in the city. 

    Businesses say Airdrie is great for opening a starting a business because of the personal and family connections, geographic location, market access, and its consumer base. But one of the areas that business owners say could be improved for businesses in Airdrie is support services for businesses. 


    “Our municipal government actually did a Right for Business Support Program where businesses could apply for a grant to put towards professional services during the pandemic,” says Aalhus.  

    Recently, a company invested 4 million dollars into space for 41 light industrial and commercial businesses in Airdrie.  

    The City of Airdrie graphed the number of commercial, light industrial, and home-based licensed businesses in Airdrie for 2020. That year, there were a total of 1061 light industrial and commercial businesses in Airdrie, which equals 37.07 per cent. There were 1801 home-based businesses in Airdrie in 2020, which equals 62.93 per cent. That means the home-based business sector in Airdrie is thriving.