Effective economic development requires data


Effective economic development requires an understanding of the local and regional economy. No one I know would argue this (especially not economic development practitioners). Data is critical to understanding the local and regional economy.

For example: Norfolk County is where I grew up and still frequently visit. Norfolk  is a single tier municipality located on the north shore of Lake Erie (famous for its Friday the 13th biker rallies). Today Norfolk has a population of approximately 65,000 people.

At the end of 2014, Norfolk had 5,753 businesses divided into the following industries (See figure 1 below).

Figure 1: Norfolk County December 2014, Number of Businesses by Industry
Figure 1: Norfolk County December 2014, Number of Businesses by Industry

There is no possible way that local knowledge can account for all of these businesses. Having current and accurate data is critical to gaining a good understanding of any economy.

The business statistics in this post are from the Statistics Canada’s, Canada Business Patterns database. The Canada Business Patterns data is available for every municipality in Ontario through Analyst. Analyst is a web-based tool that provides data on regional economies and work forces, which is available for free to Ontario economic development practitioners. Find out more about Analyst including how to access it by visiting:


Please stay tuned to this blog as we explore key economic development data resources and tools and techniques for understanding and describing regional economies for economic development.