The Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program is a collaborative effort between government, community, and businesses that identifies opportunities to help businesses expand and, retain and create jobs. The program also encourages the implementation of agreed upon activities to achieve goals, and actions to improve the local business climate.
Three recent examples of completed BR+E projects are from the communities of:
- Lake Country,
- Orangeville, and;
- Almaguin Highlands.
Each of these projects identified key opportunities that could help promote business expansion and increase growth for businesses.
Lake Country BR+E was a project lead by the Orillia Community Development Corporation for the five municipalities in its catchment area. The goal of the Lake Country BR+E project was to enhance the business environment by eliminating barriers to economic growth. Some highlights from the survey results indicated that lifestyle and location were the top two advantages reported by businesses for doing business in Lake Country (image below).
Businesses also reported that future growth and development would require more infrastructure, and better internet. Municipal and regional goals were then established as part of the project, they included:
- Reducing barriers to the planning and development processes
- Improving internet services
- Developing innovative regional transportation options
As a result, priority and long-term actions were identified for the region to pursue.
The Orangeville BR+E project was manufacturing focused; acknowledging the importance of manufacturing in strengthening the local economy. Surveys were conducted between November 2015 and February 2016 and yielded important information. For example, one of the top advantages Orangeville has, as a community in which to do business, is the quality of life and work/life balance (86%), among other factors (image below).
After a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis was performed based on the report findings, priorities were categorized using four major opportunities: workforce development, business climate, business development, and community development. In September 2016, the implementation of the action plan commenced. Progress on the goals and actions will be tracked and monitored in 2017.
The Almaguin Highlands BR+E project was implemented in June 2015 and completed in July 2016. The focus of this project was on regional collaboration, expansion opportunities, succession and exit planning, and workforce development.
Some of the key findings reported that:
- 67% of businesses expressed a good or excellent general impression of their community as a place to do business
- 89% of businesses rated quality of life as good or excellent in their communities
- 70% of businesses stated that support from local residents is good or excellent
As well recommendations were made for each of the 13 individual communities involved with this project.
As a result, Lake Country, Orangeville, and Almaguin Highlands have started implementing short- and long-term actions to target key issues. Opportunities, such as workforce development, regional collaboration, business development, and community development, were identified focus areas to drive business expansion and improve job retention and creation.
Visit our website for more information about the Ontario BR+E program.