Teeny Tiny Summit

Welcoming Newcomers to Teeny Tiny Places

Key Note Speaker: Tareq Hadhad

Many of our small rural communities’ struggle to attract new residents to fill their workforce gaps and support ongoing community investment. This Teeny Tiny Summit will feature Tareq Hadhad. Tareq was once a displaced refugee who immigrated to Canada in 2015, as war gripped Syria and his home city of Damascus. Supported by a small town in Nova Scotia upon landing, Tareq and his family built an internationally successful chocolate manufacturing business called Peace By Chocolate. Tareq will share his insights on how the community of Antigonish worked together to make him and his family feel welcome, and the meaningful supports they received as newcomers to a small rural community. His story will highlight the importance of bringing newcomers to a rural community, who bring with them new skills, determination and in his case, a thriving business. Tareq will provide additional perspectives on what it’s like building a business in a small rural community and the importance of community in job creation.

The program will also include success stories from small places throughout the province, and opportunities to share and learn from other community leaders. Much of the content is focused on what can be accomplished by volunteers working together with municipalities. In small places, volunteers are a critical part of economic development. Many of the presenters and participants are volunteers.

Immediately following the webinar, be sure to join our chat by searching on Twitter for #TeenyTinySummit to connect, network and share ideas on welcoming newcomers to Teeny Tiny Places.

The Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) has committed to multi-year support of the Teeny Tiny program allowing high quality keynote speakers to be secured for this year’s webinars, including Tareq Hadhad as the kickoff keynote speaker.

Registration will open soon at https://teenytinysummits.omafrabdb-events.ca/ for the October 13, webinar.

Business Retention + Expansion Program

Introducing the Refreshed OMAFRA BR+E Coordinator’s Manual

The Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is an action-oriented and community-based program that aims to support local business growth and community development through identifying challenges and opportunities. The Program’s Four Stage Process helps to:

  • Prepare the groundwork and project team
  • Collect and analyze immediate concerns and opportunities
  • Develop goals, action plan, and data analysis
  • Implement the plan and track progress

The BR+E program can become a key component of a community’s ongoing economic development strategies and projects and is a great approach to strengthen businesses in your community.

Coordinator’s Manual Updates:

The BR+E Coordinator’s Manual has recently been redesigned and now features a modern layout centered on visual simplicity. The third version of the Coordinator’s Manual is designed to support communities and BR+E project coordinators. The document provides details around the Four Stage BR+E Process as well as key resources and tools to assist with the completion of the stages.


Along with the modern redesign of the BR+E Coordinator’s manual, the OMAFRA BR+E Program transitioned to a new data collection and analysis tool – QualtricsXM – as of June of 2020.

Qualtrics is a renowned data analysis and visualization platform, designed to optimize data collection, analysis and visualization. The transition to QualtricsXM has been met with positive feedback from BR+E coordinators, owing to its user-friendly interface and robust batch of features.

QualtricsXM provides efficient and functional tools to help with:

  • Project Organization
  • Surveying
  • Distribution channels
  • Data Analysis and Correlation
  • Reports
  • Contacts
  • Administration

Communities undertaking BR+E initiatives with the support of OMAFRA have the option of accessing the platform at no cost for the duration of their projects.

For more information about the recent changes to the BR+E Coordinator Manual or to learn more about QualtricsXM, visit the Business Retention + Expansion Program website.


The Rural Economic Development (RED) program supports activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and opens doors to rural economic development. The program is now open and will accept applications until October 1, 2021.

If you missed our program webinar, you can access a recording of the session here.

The slides below were presented during the session and provide some helpful tips to consider when completing your application.

Applicants are required to read the program guidelines before completing an application. The program guidelines provide detailed information on eligible applicants, project types, and costs, as well as the process for submitting an application and the process that will be used to assess the application.

For more information on the program including guidelines, applications, and approved projects, please visit Ontario.ca/REDprogram

Recap: Growing Agri-Tourism Initiatives in Your Community

On August 19, 2021, the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice hosted an online webinar where participants had a chance to learn more about recent agri-tourism research and initiatives across the province.

Two main initiatives discussed in the webinar were:

Continue reading Recap: Growing Agri-Tourism Initiatives in Your Community

Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Opens on August 30th

The Rural Economic Development (RED) program is open from August 30, 2021 to October 1, 2021. You can find all program information including how to apply on the program’s homepage on August 30, 2021.

Information Sessions

OMAFRA staff will be conducting two public webinars to provide an overview of the RED program, and discuss the process for applying to the program. Please bring your questions as there will be a Q&A period. The sessions will be on the following dates:

  • September 2, 11:00am-12:00pm EST
  • September 16, 1:00pm-2:00pm EST

Sign up on the session registration page

Ontario’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program provides cost-share funding to support activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and open doors to rural economic development.

What are RED Outcomes?

RED applications are assessed on their ability to result in one or more of the following:

Continue reading Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Opens on August 30th

Save the Date: Agri-Food Forum 2021 – Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector

On November 3-4, 2021, the 13th annual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development & Planning Forum is taking place! The forum is co-hosted by The Regional Municipality of York and OMAFRA. 

The forum theme is “Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector”. Two half-day sessions will be filled with speakers and panel presentations on enabling innovation and a resilient agri-food system within Ontario and at the local level. Virtual tours of York Region’s agri-food assets, the Holland Marsh growers and York Farm Fresh members will allow participants to explore York Region.

Continue reading Save the Date: Agri-Food Forum 2021 – Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector

Exhibit with the Ontario Pavilion at PLMA Chicago, November 14-16, 2021!

The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) is hosting an in-person event in November 2021 for experienced and export-ready food and beverage manufacturers who have an interest in starting or growing their private label products export to the US.

PLMA is a worldwide organization of more than 3,200 manufacturers and marketers of private label products, which includes food and non-food products. The annual PLMA trade show in Chicago is the cornerstone private label show in North America, and historically, more than 1,500 companies from 40 companies exhibit their products, including 25 international pavilions. With 80% of Ontario’s agri-food exports going to the United States in 2020, the US is the largest and most important export market for Ontario.

Continue reading Exhibit with the Ontario Pavilion at PLMA Chicago, November 14-16, 2021!

New funding Intake for Ontario Food and Beverage Processors

Canada and Ontario are investing up to $6 million in projects to help Ontario food and beverage processors improve their operations, increase their competitive edge and adapt to challenges as the pandemic begins to subside.

Applications for this program will be accepted in two phases.

The first phase of this new intake under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support projects that will enhance economic development and food safety in the sector will be accepted. Applications for phase one of the intake will be accepted starting on August 5, 2021 until September 2, 2021.

The second phase of the intake will open in September for targeted projects to improve labour productivity, efficiency and reduce waste.

Program materials including the application form and program guide are available on the OMAFRA website.

A webinar providing an overview of this food and beverage processor intake will be held on Monday August 16, at 9:30am. Sign up using the webinar registration form. This session will be recorded and available for those not able to attend.

For more information about the programming contact OMAFRA by emailing ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca or calling 1-877-424-1300.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. This commitment includes $2 billion for programs that are cost-shared by the federal and provincial and territorial governments and are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.

Grocery Innovations Canada Show 2021: Live Online

Grocery Innovations Canada’s (GIC) annual food service and hospitality trade event will take place virtually this year from October 26-28, 2021.

The GIC show is a leading industry event connecting the food and beverage retail sector. The event is attended by key decision makers – such as Presidents, Vice Presidents, General Managers, Directors and Buying/Purchasing Managers – that are keen on purchasing new products for their retail shelves.

Continue reading Grocery Innovations Canada Show 2021: Live Online

Webinar: Exporting Food and Beverages to The Philippines

On September 14, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in cooperation with Canadian Trade Commissioners Services in the Philippines is hosting a webinar for Ontario’s food and beverage suppliers. The webinar will discuss opportunities to export food and beverage products to the Philippines.

Participating Ontario food and beverage suppliers will learn about pertinent information in exporting to importers and retailers in the Philippines and will also have an opportunity to be introduced to consolidators, importers, prominent retailers, and trade commissioners who are engaged in Southeast Asian markets.

Increasing exports and diversifying export markets is fundamental to the competitiveness and growth of Ontario Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), as well as the overall economic health and growth of the province.

Market opportunities for Ontario include:

  • Growing populations and ongoing urbanization in Southeast Asian markets
  • Increased consumption of higher value food & beverage products because of shared interests on trade agreements
  • The growth of the Philippines’ economy and their rising incomes amongst the growing middle class
  • Ontario’s previous success in exporting to the Philippines, including CAD $50.21 million worth of agri-food and beverage products in 2020
  • The Philippines being a net importer of agri-food products in 2018, with Canada being its thirteenth largest supplier

To learn more and capitalize on these opportunities, register on the event homepage.

Regional Economic Development blog focusing on agriculture and rural economic development for Ontario