All posts by ON Regional Economic Development

Growing in a COVID-19 World

Guest blog written by Emily Potter, Executive Director, NOFIA

With the current COVID-19 situation changing daily, challenges that farmers were facing prior to the outbreak have escalated, and new challenges are being presented week by week. While the general public are expressing  concerns about the food supply, farmers want the public to know that they will not stop producing safe and healthy food for them to consume. Despite mounting challenges, Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry is resilient and innovative.

Industry organizations everywhere have been working hard to provide up-to-date information and create tools to ensure farmers and producers can continue to meet the country’s demand. Whether this be releasing practical tools and information, developing support programs, or working with the government to ensure the supply chain is maintained.

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Business and Farm Resources to Support Your Community During COVID-19

The Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice held a webinar on April 15, 2020, to discuss issues in the agriculture and food sector due to COVID-19 and how to help communities during these difficult times.

One concern expressed  is the lack of  agriculture labourers. The agricultural community is worried that they will not get their full complement of temporary seasonal workers, and that would impact their ability to plant and harvest this season. The goal of the Community of Practice it to help find local and regional solutions to address these types of issues.

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Young Rural Change Makers Program

page_00017_Rural_Ontario_InstituteThe Rural Ontario Institute has created a Young Rural Change Makers pilot program that invites young adults to develop their community leadership capacity to make a difference in their rural community. This program is open to individuals ages 18-29 that currently reside in rural Ontario.

Up to 30 motivated young adults will be selected by application to join the program. The chosen individuals will participate in a series of developmental training webinars that will foster online connections for a customized, experiential event. This will support them to take action on a challenge/opportunity that they have helped their community to select. Additional personalized coaching will take place, as-needed, either in-person, phone or via email.

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Tips for Creating a Calm and Supportive Workplace during COVID-19

As a continuation of a previous blog post on tips to support your business community, this blog offers mental health strategies on navigating through COVID-19. Due to the uncertainty business owners are currently facing, it can be extremely difficult to manage stress levels while working through economic setbacks. Although, there are several significant unknowns, it is important to ensure that mental health and self-care is a top priority for yourself and your business community during these challenging times. It is not uncommon to experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and stress.

Below are some key insights from mental health experts on practicing good self-care for yourself and your employees.

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Planning for Agriculture Requires Balancing Growth and Compatibility

On March 5th, 2020, the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice hosted a webinar on planning for agriculture. This webinar fostered a discussion between the audience and the speaker, Dr. Wayne Caldwell, on the impact and opportunities for land use planning and near-urban agriculture. Potential challenges and opportunities were addressed, along with ten methods to create a more viable agricultural sector through planning practices.

As Ontario’s population grows, urbanized and highly populated areas are expanding into agricultural areas. While there are certainly opportunities for agriculture in proximity to urban markets, it can also pose some risks and challenges.

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Tips for Improving BR+E Business Interviews

Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) is a structured, action-oriented and community-based approach to business and economic development. The data and knowledge obtained from business interviews is used to address issues and opportunities facing employers.

BR+E best practice suggests that interviews should ideally be conducted in-person because face-to-face interactions can offer beneficial results. However, there are some potential challenges to be aware of.

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Exhibit with the Ontario Pavilion at SIAL Canada 2020!

UPDATE: SIAL Canada has recently released the following about this event: “SIAL Canada, as an industry leader, has been following the evolution of the COVID-19 crisis very closely. In light of recent developments in the ordinances announced in Quebec, we have decided to postpone the event to August 5-7 at the Palais des Congres.”

SIAL Canada is an annual international food and beverage trade show that offers a complete range of products, equipment and technologies designated specifically for the food industry. This year, SIAL Canada will be held in Montreal, Quebec at the Palais des Congres, on April 15-17, 2020.

SIAL Canada will feature an Ontario pavilion, presented by OMAFRA comprised of Ontario food and beverage processors. There are still limited spots left to exhibit with the Ontario pavilion. With over 25,000 visitors, SIAL Canada is the perfect springboard for your product. Booth spaces are limited and filling up fast! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet the industry’s major players!

Why exhibit at SIAL Canada?

  • SIALThere will be 25,000 visitors from more than 60 countries. Your clients will be there! And if not, you will receive free invitations for your clients as part of your exhibitor package.
  • An average of 350 contacts per booth which offers you the opportunity to develop your business around the world.
  • Attend exclusive conferences to keep you informed of the biggest market trends, food innovation and growth opportunities.

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Sobeys Helps Local Suppliers Expand Their Business

Sobeys Ontario held two Local Supplier Partner Roadshows to help their suppliers grow their businesses on February 4th in Ajax and February 5th in Hamilton. Over 372 people from local Ontario agri-food businesses attended each event.

The Local Supplier Partner Roadshows were composed of:

  • Presentations by Sheri Evans, Sobeys Local Development Manager who provided an overview of the Sobeys Local program, and;
  • Interactive panels who answered questions about working with the Sobeys stores and growing their brands.

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RESTAURANTS CANADA SHOW 2020

The Restaurants Canada (RC) Show is Canada’s largest annual foodservice and hospitality trade-show held in Toronto, Ontario. The RC Show is dedicated to creating networking and sales opportunities between vendors and buyers within the food service industry. The RC Show is being held on March 1-3 at the Enercare Centre, Toronto starting at 10am.

The show will offer three days of non-stop business-building action including a dynamic trade show floor with seven stages hosting over 150 speakers, six competitions, three leadership conferences and four networking events. With 20,000 industry professionals in attendance, this annual event provides thought leadership and education, boasting 250,000 square feet of the latest product innovation and culinary events designed to inspire and motivate by showcasing cutting-edge products, pioneering influencers and transformative ideas.

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Online Agriculture Economic Development Training

If your community is looking for ways to support your local agriculture sector; plan on attending the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) online Agriculture Economic Development Training.

The course is split into two sessions (April 8, 10am- 12pm and April 22, 10am-12pm). Click here to register.

This interactive training will:

  • Share key agriculture economic development concepts
  • Introduce the range of agriculture economic development activities your community can explore
  • Give you tools to develop a plan for agricultural economic development in your community
  • Provide an overview of the Agriculture Economic Development guide and its three stages: plant, grow and harvest.

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