National Bank donates $1 million to family business research
Quebec is expected to see a pivotal shift in small business ownership as owners retire over the next few years without clear succession plans. Now, thanks to a generous $1 million donation from the National Bank, Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB) will be at the forefront of research and analysis on how small business perform their critical duties to the economy and what the shift will mean for Quebec.
The surprise announcement came at an event on Thursday, Nov. 13, and was attended by numerous university faculty, including the president and the dean of JMSB, local business figures, and bank representatives. It followed an earlier talk on family entrepreneurship by students. On hand to share their experiences in family business were Groupe Park Avenue Inc. President and CEO Norman E. Hébert jr., who is also on Concordia’s Board of Governors, and sports company Lanctôt President Diane Lanctôt.
The gift is going towards the creation of the National Bank Initiative in Entrepreneurship and Family Business. The initiative will bring in researchers and professors who will carry out their work on the topic, as well as mentor and provide support to students carrying out their studies in entrepreneurship and family business.
Undergraduate students will have the ability to apply for new bursaries through the program, while their graduate peers will be specifically eligible for awards. The other half will be reserved for researchers and their assistants.
“Out of all businesses, 70 to 80 per cent are family businesses. That’s the reality in Quebec and Canada and also around the world,” said Alexandra Dawson, associate professor in the department of management and the newly-appointed director of the initiative. She says CIBC predicted half of all business owners will cease running their operations over the next decade.
“This is the largest transfer of ownership that has ever happened in Canada, and it’s because all the baby boomers are retiring.”
For Dawson, this makes it a natural topic of focus for JMSB, banks, and other economic entities, all the more so when figures show only a quarter have clear succession plans.
“Transferring a business is not something you can do overnight.”
The academic research will be centred in Quebec, but due to the universality of the business experience it will be applicable to governments, other researchers, and think tanks.
Thursday’s announcement means it’s a bit too soon to be greenlighting specific projects, though a committee will soon be nominated to begin formulating criteria for researchers and their proposals. Dawson intends for operations to really begin at the start of next semester.