Staff Profile: Catherine Oosterbaan, Ec.D.

Get to know our staff. We’ll be profiling them here so you can get to know who can help you grow your ideas. 

1. What is your role in the Regional Economic Development Branch?  

Catherine Oosterbaan, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor
Catherine Oosterbaan, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor

As an Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor, my role is to promote Ministry programs, while helping municipalities, rural stakeholders, and businesses access them. That can involve anything from presenting information, to helping clients refine a funding application, to delivering program-related training and workshops. I also deliver a range of advisory supports, provide knowledge and assistance to get projects, initiatives and other rural prosperity related activities started, get on-track or expand. Furthermore, as facilitating economic development readiness is of critical importance to our branch, I work with stakeholders to complete economic development related strategic planning activities. I am currently responsible for covering Simcoe County, and Muskoka District.

2. What initiatives or projects are you currently working on?

A major project that I’m working on at the moment is a partnership with Georgian College to deliver the ‘Food Entrepreneurs’ workshops at their Simcoe County and Muskoka District campuses. These workshops are designed to help start-up and early stage food processing business get a better understanding of how to grow their business and what it takes to succeed when scaling up. Georgian College has partnered with the Agri-Food Management Institute in Guelph to host an Ontario-Wide Food Entrepreneurs Event in March 2016, and both organizations are hoping to showcase innovative food entrepreneurs from across Ontario.

 3. What do you most like about the work you do?

 I’m passionate about economic development, particularly in rural areas because I find there is so much untapped innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, and innovation and entrepreneurship are my two favorite aspects of economic development. I love working with stakeholders to develop new and innovative ways to support their entrepreneurs, as well as drive their economy and community forward. I am also so lucky to work with an incredible internal team here at the REDB (and Ministry as a whole), and an engaging and enthusiastic group of clients who truly make coming to work every day a rewarding experience.

 4. Professional background or How did you become involved with Economic Development?

It’s been a long journey – I’ll keep it short though. Really, what clinched it for me was being involved in a study on economic development strategies in cities and regions in Ontario. While learning an incredible depth of information about the economic development field of practice, I also found out that economic developers are in a position to make a huge impact on the well-being of their community – something that I really wanted from my career.  They are also a fantastically fun group to work with! So, several degrees and a broad range of experience later, here I am, a Certified Economic Developer.

 5. What is the value add that you give OMAFRA clients?

My ability to bring together meaningful partnerships.  Being able to leverage my extensive knowledge and experience to explore new and creative solutions to challenges rural communities face.  And my boundless enthusiasm and passion for economic development!

 6. How do people contact you?

I can be reached via email at, or phone at 705-725-7293.



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