A thorough Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) exercise can take several months to complete. However, there may be times when an economic development practitioner may need to gather data quickly. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with the County of Simcoe and the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury to address this challenge as they developed their COVID-19 Recovery Plans. Instead of the usual one-on-one business interviews, we used a series of virtual focus groups to collect the business information they needed to develop recovery strategies within a short timeframe.
Our focus groups consisted of a small group of people that would typically be engaged in a BR+E exercise. We used a short-list of questions (no more than four questions per hour of focus group discussion) targeting immediate and long-term opportunities and challenges.
Just as the activities of business and government are shifting to meet the demands of the current context, the BR+E process should also adapt to meet today’s economic development needs. To tackle the implications of this outbreak, communities and organizations will benefit from having access to and sharing timely, reliable, and meaningful data. This data can allow stakeholders and the business community to share critical information that can help address individual, regional and sector-based issues.
This post will review four keys ways in which your BR+E practices could pivot to address today’s economy.
A strong Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program can help communities understand and address prospects and issues facing their business community. Amidst a global COVID-19 outbreak that has significantly impacted local economies, it is crucial, now more than ever, to consider BR+E as a means to:
assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak to the local economy
identify current and potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead
BR+Es work by using survey questions to conduct live interviews with the business community. Once the data has been collected it is used to formulate actions to support the business community. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA’s) BR+E program helps communities develop situation specific surveys which ask meaningful questions that in turn provide the data needed to plan for economic recovery and future resiliency.
This post will examine the importance of undertaking BR+E in the current context.
Youth possess a great amount of community and economic development potential.
Rural communities have been grappling with how to attract and retain youth and young families for years. Youth get lured away from rural areas by the bright lights of the city, higher education, good jobs, and entertainment; all things typically perceived to be lacking in rural areas. Haliburton County and Dysart et al, are no different in facing this scenario, but they are about to do something about it. Led by a small group of young entrepreneurs and committed community leaders, the community has seen the emergence of a number of opportunities and initiatives to support youth in the region.
The week of October 25, 2015 was declared Food Entrepreneurship Week in Simcoe County to celebrate those gastronomic entrepreneurs who make a business out of growing, processing, and selling food-related products across the region. To celebrate the declaration (Oct. 26 and 28) Georgian College and community partners welcomed over 200 food entrepreneurs to the Orillia and Midland Food Entrepreneurship Seminars. The seminars were part of a successful series led by Georgian College that have been sweeping across communities in Central Ontario. Continue reading Food Entrepreneurship Success in Central Ontario Expands to Provincial Conference→
Economic Development happens in a complex and highly competitive environment. When you’re competing for investment, labour, and other resources with literally every other municipality across the globe it can be hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Especially, if you’re a small rural community.
The 2015 Economic Development Association of Canada (EDAC) annual conference was hosted in Whitehorse, YT. For a change it focused on being different and presenters talked about how small communities can leverage their unique assets and regional partnerships to set themselves apart. Speakers such as former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Joe Clark, marketing specialist Chris Fields, public engagement expert Stephanie Roy McCallum, slam poet Shane Koyczan, and a host of municipal and First Nations dignitaries and staff walked delegates through how to identify unique assets, opportunities, and partnerships to leverage and set a community apart from the competition. Continue reading 10 takeaways from EDAC 2015 in Whitehorse→
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?
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. Continue reading Staff Profile: Catherine Oosterbaan, Ec.D.→
Regional Economic Development Branch blog focusing on agriculture and rural economic development for Ontario