All posts by ON Regional Economic Development

Put Your Data to Work: BR+E Stages 3 & 4

Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program, this blog will outline the and discuss stages 3 & 4 of the BR+E process. 

stagesThe four stages of the BR+E process are:

  1. Preparation
  2. Collect and Analyze
  3. Develop Goals and Action Plans
  4. Implement and Monitor

Check out our previous posts, 6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E to understand the advantages of a BR+E project and learn about stages 1 & 2 by reading Discover the Advantage of Thorough Preparation and Data Collection for a Successful BR+E  Continue reading Put Your Data to Work: BR+E Stages 3 & 4

The Importance of Youth Engagement to Rural Ontario

The strength and vitality of rural communities is contingent on our ability to attract young leaders: they are entrepreneurs, employees, neighbours, volunteers and patrons of local businesses.

Making headlines in Ontario Farmer: “Labour shortage worsening in Perth, Huron, Grey and Bruce”. Labour force availability in rural communities is being cited as a problem by employers and economic developers across the province.  It’s a challenge across all sectors, from manufacturing to agriculture to tourism to healthcare.

As rural Ontario’s population ages, its labour force – the working age population – is shrinking.  (Look for the Rural Ontario Institute’s Focus on Rural Ontario Factsheets for migration trends by age).

When youth leave rural Ontario for post-secondary education and job training, fewer return home with the skills and experiences they have learned along the way. It can be even more difficult to attract new young workers from outside the community to fill available jobs. (It should be noted that youth migration rates have regional variations in their youth populations (15-29) and it is important for communities to understand their local context).

The experiences of youth growing up in rural Ontario is increasingly an important consideration for any municipality pursuing economic or community development.

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So why youth engagement?

Many communities are talking about youth engagement. We see it popping up in community strategic plans, from economic development to community health and well-being.

Youth are capable of affecting positive change in their communities. In rural Ontario especially, where many volunteers wear many hats, engaged youth are valuable assets.

Jacinda Rudolph, who has spent a significant amount of time working with youth at the Youth Activity and Technology Centre in Hanover, Ontario, says “people will only return if they feel like they’ve left something behind”.

In other words, if we can create meaningful ways for youth to get involved in their communities it will have a lasting impact; they will be more likely to see their community as a long-term opportunity; they will feel invested.

What are communities doing?

Communities across Ontario are creating youth advisory councils and youth action committees; they are hosting open-houses with local youth and organizing youth-focussed networking events. Simply put, communities are starting a conversation that recognizes the importance of the youth experience in rural Ontario.

Perth County has recently released their Prosper In Perth County campaign, an initiative stemming from strategic planning and youth engagement sessions that have taken place over many years. The Perth County Economic Development team came to the realization that youth were disconnected from the breadth of career opportunities in Perth County.

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Through “career cards” and video profiles, Prosper in Perth County is striving to show local youth the opportunities that exist for stimulating and prosperous careers close to home. Additionally, the economic development team is connecting these resources with teachers in highschools, helping them help their students evaluate career opportunities.

What is the Rural Ontario Institute doing?

To support the work currently underway, and to help communities explore new opportunities for youth engagement, ROI is undertaking the Municipal Internship – Youth Engagement Strategies project.

ROI is currently accepting Expressions of Interest from community partners. Through this project, 12 rural communities will receive financial assistance ($8,000) in the summer of 2019 for the purposes of:

  • financing the employment of a municipal intern by the municipality;
  • developing and implementing youth engagement strategies; and/or
  • off-setting staff time dedicated to supervising the intern and reporting on the project.

The youth engagement activities are not prescribed, but may include:

  • Strategic Planning: laying a foundation for youth engagement activities.
  • Community Research: listening to what youth have to say on community needs.
  • Political engagement: youth advisory/action committees.
  • Story-telling: sharing and/or helping youth to tell their stories.
  • Youth-serving functions: networking events, volunteer opportunities.
  • Youth engagement education: workshops, communications materials, projects.

To learn more, please visit our website: http://www.ruralontarioinstitute.ca/programs/youthengagementstrategies or get in touch with me directly:

Ryan Deska

Project Lead, Community Development Specialist

Rural Ontario Institute

rdeska@ruralontarioinstitute.ca

519-826-4204

 

Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum: Navigating Agriculture Economies

On October 4th 2018, OMAFRA and Wellington County held the Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum. The forum was an opportunity for those involved in municipal and local economic development or planning to network and share success stories.

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Wayne Caldwell, from the University of Guelph, was the  key note speaker presenting on Revitalizing Rural Economic Development.  He outlined the process used to select rural research priorities and demonstrate how we can use this research to enhance our own community work. He also presented several  recent projects pertinent to agriculture economic development and rural Ontario, for example the Enhancing Local Food in Northern Ontario initiative Continue reading Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum: Navigating Agriculture Economies

Digital Main Street Launches Grant Program

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) announced the launch of the Ddigital main streetigital Main Street Grant Program.

The Digital Main Street Grants Program provides funding to qualifying small “main street” businesses and community business groups to enhance their online promotion, selling and operations. It will help businesses adapt to the digital economy with new technologies from e-commerce to social media platforms. Digital Main Street not only aims to strengthen rural communities but also help local small businesses embrace new technologies that will expand their digital capabilities and increase their competitiveness.

Continue reading Digital Main Street Launches Grant Program

Discover the Advantage of Thorough Preparation and Data Collection for a Successful BR+E

Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program, this blog will outline the first two stages of the BR+E process. 

stagesThe four stages of the BR+E process are:

  1. Preparation
  2. Collect and Analyze
  3. Develop Goals and Action Plans
  4. Implement and Monitor

 

BR+E Stage I – Preparation

Step 1: Assess Community Readiness

Community leaders should work with a Provincial Staff Advisor to determine if BR+E is the right project for the community, and assess the community’s readiness for the project.

Check out our previous post, 6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E to understand the advantages of a BR+E project.  Continue reading Discover the Advantage of Thorough Preparation and Data Collection for a Successful BR+E

How prepared are you when Navigating the Agricultural Economy?

The 10thannual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum is being held October 3 and 4th, hosted by the County of Wellington and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Explore Wellington County on a bus tour on October 3rd, with local food lunch and dinner included. Learn about different agriculture-related businesses and how you can support similar agriculture activities in your region.IMG_3683

Tour locations include: 

  • Angelstone International Show Jumping Tournaments
  • Rootham Gourmet Preserves
  • Strom’s Farm and Bakery
  • Mapleton’s Organic Dairy
  • Elora Brewing Company

On October 4th, take in a full day of local food, networking and learning. Join us for speakers and panel presentations highlighting best practices from practitioners in Wellington County and beyond. Continue reading How prepared are you when Navigating the Agricultural Economy?

6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E Project

The most important thing a Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) project does is build capacity. BR+E is strategically designed to take existing community resources and employ’s its community businesses to help them come together with a plan for the future. 1

Whether you are an economic developer, a chamber of commerce, a local government official, or an interested citizen who wants to improve and ensure economic growth in your area, a BR+E project may be right for you.2 Continue reading 6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E Project

Teeny Tiny Summit with a Great Big Reach

The 7th Teeny Tiny Summit attracted its largest audience ever when the Municipality of Tweed hosted the summit earlier this summer. The first Teeny Tiny Summit was held in 2015, as the OMAFRAs East Region Economic Development staff wanted to support their smallest communities. These communities had several features in common…they were typically small, rural, with limited staff and resources, and little or no perceived economic development capacity and activity.

This year’s theme was ‘Creating our Future, Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary’ and was supported by the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) and the North and Central Hastings Community Futures Development Corporation. This year’s event covered four key topics that aimed to inspire others. Speakers shared their real-life examples of community volunteer involvement, strategic planning, telling personal stories and the importance of municipal-volunteer relationships. Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit with a Great Big Reach

Key takeaways from the Succession Planning Community of Practice

On August 16, 2018, participants had the opportunity to hear from four presenters about how communities can support the transition of farm businesses during the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice webinar.

Mark Ferguson of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Development Branch began the session with a definition of succession planning. 

Succession planning as a process that occurs over time during which a family plans for the transfer of knowledge, skills, labour, management, control and ownership of the farm business between the founder (retiring) generation and the successor (next) generation.

He went on to share why some producers are not planning for succession  including: Continue reading Key takeaways from the Succession Planning Community of Practice

Expanded Digital Main Street Program to Support Ontario Small Businesses

The Digital Main Street program, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and delivered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), will soon be available across the province to help ‘main street’ businesses become more digital.  The program will be live on August 24, 2018, and as part of Ontario’s Main Street Enhancement Initiative, it will help small businesses improve how they use digital tools and provide them with techniques to become even more successful. Continue reading Expanded Digital Main Street Program to Support Ontario Small Businesses