The 2018 LMI survey is here! The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is surveying farm business owners and workers on the state of agricultural labour in Canada. We ask all owner-operators, workers and supporting stakeholder groups to take part to guide future action on the growing workforce crisis. Continue reading Agriculture Labour Market Survey: Available until November 30
Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program, this blog will outline the and discuss stages 3 & 4 of the BR+E process.
The four stages of the BR+E process are:
- Collect and Analyze
- Develop Goals and Action Plans
- Implement and Monitor
Check out our previous posts, 6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E to understand the advantages of a BR+E project and learn about stages 1 & 2 by reading Discover the Advantage of Thorough Preparation and Data Collection for a Successful BR+E Continue reading Put Your Data to Work: BR+E Stages 3 & 4
The strength and vitality of rural communities is contingent on our ability to attract young leaders: they are entrepreneurs, employees, neighbours, volunteers and patrons of local businesses.
Making headlines in Ontario Farmer: “Labour shortage worsening in Perth, Huron, Grey and Bruce”. Labour force availability in rural communities is being cited as a problem by employers and economic developers across the province. It’s a challenge across all sectors, from manufacturing to agriculture to tourism to healthcare.
As rural Ontario’s population ages, its labour force – the working age population – is shrinking. (Look for the Rural Ontario Institute’s Focus on Rural Ontario Factsheets for migration trends by age).
When youth leave rural Ontario for post-secondary education and job training, fewer return home with the skills and experiences they have learned along the way. It can be even more difficult to attract new young workers from outside the community to fill available jobs. (It should be noted that youth migration rates have regional variations in their youth populations (15-29) and it is important for communities to understand their local context).
The experiences of youth growing up in rural Ontario is increasingly an important consideration for any municipality pursuing economic or community development.
So why youth engagement?
Many communities are talking about youth engagement. We see it popping up in community strategic plans, from economic development to community health and well-being.
Youth are capable of affecting positive change in their communities. In rural Ontario especially, where many volunteers wear many hats, engaged youth are valuable assets.
Jacinda Rudolph, who has spent a significant amount of time working with youth at the Youth Activity and Technology Centre in Hanover, Ontario, says “people will only return if they feel like they’ve left something behind”.
In other words, if we can create meaningful ways for youth to get involved in their communities it will have a lasting impact; they will be more likely to see their community as a long-term opportunity; they will feel invested.
What are communities doing?
Communities across Ontario are creating youth advisory councils and youth action committees; they are hosting open-houses with local youth and organizing youth-focussed networking events. Simply put, communities are starting a conversation that recognizes the importance of the youth experience in rural Ontario.
Perth County has recently released their Prosper In Perth County campaign, an initiative stemming from strategic planning and youth engagement sessions that have taken place over many years. The Perth County Economic Development team came to the realization that youth were disconnected from the breadth of career opportunities in Perth County.
Through “career cards” and video profiles, Prosper in Perth County is striving to show local youth the opportunities that exist for stimulating and prosperous careers close to home. Additionally, the economic development team is connecting these resources with teachers in highschools, helping them help their students evaluate career opportunities.
What is the Rural Ontario Institute doing?
To support the work currently underway, and to help communities explore new opportunities for youth engagement, ROI is undertaking the Municipal Internship – Youth Engagement Strategies project.
ROI is currently accepting Expressions of Interest from community partners. Through this project, 12 rural communities will receive financial assistance ($8,000) in the summer of 2019 for the purposes of:
- financing the employment of a municipal intern by the municipality;
- developing and implementing youth engagement strategies; and/or
- off-setting staff time dedicated to supervising the intern and reporting on the project.
The youth engagement activities are not prescribed, but may include:
- Strategic Planning: laying a foundation for youth engagement activities.
- Community Research: listening to what youth have to say on community needs.
- Political engagement: youth advisory/action committees.
- Story-telling: sharing and/or helping youth to tell their stories.
- Youth-serving functions: networking events, volunteer opportunities.
- Youth engagement education: workshops, communications materials, projects.
To learn more, please visit our website: http://www.ruralontarioinstitute.ca/programs/youthengagementstrategies or get in touch with me directly:
Project Lead, Community Development Specialist
Rural Ontario Institute
On October 4th 2018, OMAFRA and Wellington County held the Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum. The forum was an opportunity for those involved in municipal and local economic development or planning to network and share success stories.
Wayne Caldwell, from the University of Guelph, was the key note speaker presenting on Revitalizing Rural Economic Development. He outlined the process used to select rural research priorities and demonstrate how we can use this research to enhance our own community work. He also presented several recent projects pertinent to agriculture economic development and rural Ontario, for example the Enhancing Local Food in Northern Ontario initiative. Continue reading Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum: Navigating Agriculture Economies
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) announced the launch of the Digital Main Street Grant Program.
The Digital Main Street Grants Program provides funding to qualifying small “main street” businesses and community business groups to enhance their online promotion, selling and operations. It will help businesses adapt to the digital economy with new technologies from e-commerce to social media platforms. Digital Main Street not only aims to strengthen rural communities but also help local small businesses embrace new technologies that will expand their digital capabilities and increase their competitiveness.
Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program, this blog will outline the first two stages of the BR+E process.
The four stages of the BR+E process are:
- Collect and Analyze
- Develop Goals and Action Plans
- Implement and Monitor
BR+E Stage I – Preparation
Step 1: Assess Community Readiness
Community leaders should work with a Provincial Staff Advisor to determine if BR+E is the right project for the community, and assess the community’s readiness for the project.
Check out our previous post, 6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E to understand the advantages of a BR+E project. Continue reading Discover the Advantage of Thorough Preparation and Data Collection for a Successful BR+E
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program is a comprehensive four stage approach to support economic development efforts of rural communities. As part of that program, OMAFRA provides intensive downtown revitalization coordinator training focused on identifying the processes and tools that are needed to successfully undertake a downtown revitalization initiative in a community.
An upcoming training session will be offered at Celebrations in Lindsay, Ontario on November 6-7. The training event can accommodate a limited number of participants, and will be open to individuals from: Continue reading Want to Learn About Downtown Revitalization? Training on Nov 6 & 7 in Lindsay
It’s the season of fall fairs. These annual events provide an opportunity for farmers to showcase their work, interact with the general public, and evaluate their produce and livestock against other farmers.
Fall fairs are a celebration of agriculture everywhere The local fall fair brings farmers and consumers together. A recent study indicated that three-quarters of fair attendees think that agricultural education is an important component of fair attendance. For many people, it is their once a year time to get up close and personal with a farm animal or product. Continue reading The Impact of FALL FAIRS: A LASTING IMPRESSION
In this next entry in our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program, we take a look at preparing your preliminary work plan, and the importance of “quick wins” to the initiative.
Before starting to collect and analyze data, you need an overall work plan to guide the Management Committee and Coordinator over the duration of the initiative. The team should have a strong grasp of the entire strategic process when developing the work plan, to ensure the scheduling of tasks considers:
- The potential to use data collected in one activity (e.g. business and resident surveys) to inform subsequent activities (e.g. community design workshop)
- The availability of resources and volunteers to carry out the tasks when required, including the level of effort and time required from the coordinator
- The municipal budget planning process, and the need to submit short and long term projects for municipal council approval in the preceding budget year
Your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor can assist you with scheduling major activities, and provide templates to assist with the development of a comprehensive work plan.
Developing your work plan also offers a chance to tackle one of the key challenges you may face – keeping the team and community engaged and energized in the initiative, particularly through the less visible activities like data collection and analysis. The work planning stage is a great time to identify and plan for some highly-visible, high-impact activities that will help to promote and generate ongoing support for downtown revitalization.
The 10thannual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum is being held October 3 and 4th, hosted by the County of Wellington and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Explore Wellington County on a bus tour on October 3rd, with local food lunch and dinner included. Learn about different agriculture-related businesses and how you can support similar agriculture activities in your region.
Tour locations include:
- Angelstone International Show Jumping Tournaments
- Rootham Gourmet Preserves
- Strom’s Farm and Bakery
- Mapleton’s Organic Dairy
- Elora Brewing Company
On October 4th, take in a full day of local food, networking and learning. Join us for speakers and panel presentations highlighting best practices from practitioners in Wellington County and beyond. Continue reading How prepared are you when Navigating the Agricultural Economy?