All posts by ON Regional Economic Development

Reopening Physically-Distanced Downtowns

As Ontario transitions through the Framework for Reopening Our Province, downtowns and main street areas are required to operate in different ways than they have in the past. On June 1, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs facilitated an online Community of Practice event to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with the reopening of downtowns. Speakers Stephannie Schlichter, Director of Economic and Creative Development of the City of Barrie, Noella Rinaldo, Executive Director of the Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Area, and Kay Matthews, Executive Director of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), provided their input on some of the methods and techniques that their municipalities have introduced to support the reopening of downtowns.

A few key ways were identified as quick, high-impact tasks that municipalities can implement in downtowns to attract residents and boost their economic recovery:

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Examples of Economic Recovery Teams

In the past couple months, Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) has hosted a 2-part webinar series discussing emergency economic task forces. The series covered key economic challenges and successes from both rural and urban perspectives. Fellow EDCO members Craig Kelley – Director of Property and Development with the County of Renfrew, Rebecca Mustard – Manager of Economic Development with the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Martin Bohl – Sector Manager with the City of Brampton shared insights on their local efforts to support their community in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Structuring an emergency economic task force was discussed as a means to support local businesses and guide the community back toward a thriving economy.

Why are economic task forces beneficial?

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Feeding Your Future – Connecting Ontario’s Agri-Food Workforce: Online Community of Practice Webinar

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) recognizes the unique workforce challenges and opportunities agri-sector employers are faced with. Through Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding, OFA is rapidly developing a support system for agriculture and food employers from field to fork, to feed Ontario’s future. This project will help employers seek qualified candidates for planting, harvesting, processing, marketing, researching, and selling Ontario’s healthy, high-quality food, beverage and agri-products.

Enhancing agri-food workforce readiness along the value chain will help strengthen the Ontario agri-food sector during COVID-19 and beyond. This project will address agri-food labour supply and training challenges through the inclusion of:

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Buy Local!!!

Ontario’s Local Food Week is here from June 3rd – 9th, 2020! This week we emphasize the importance of Ontario’s hardworking farmers, food processors, organizations and agri-sector workers who are committed to providing Ontarians with access to a steady, reliable supply of fresh local food products. With the vast array of food options available, we can remain confident that our agriculture and agri-food industry continues to be resilient and innovative.

girl workingOMAFRA’s Agriculture Economic Development Resource Guide for Communities notes that Ontario’s agri-food sector is one of the province’s largest economic contributors. In 2016, over $37 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) was contributed to Ontario’s economy from the agri-sector with the provision of over 800,000 jobs – roughly 12% of total provincial employment. This means that one in eight Ontarians are agri-sector workers!

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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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