All posts by ON Regional Economic Development

Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice, online January 2019

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is pleased to offer a third session in its Online Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice series, to be held on January 17th 2019, from 10:30-12:00. This session will focus on the province-wide expansion of the Digital Main Street program.  Continue reading Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice, online January 2019

Statistics Canada Releases the Results from the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian businesses are becoming much more innovative and as a result are increasing competitiveness, economic growth and social wellbeing. However they say, there must be sufficient data available to advocate for the creation of policies that support innovation. Sufficient data is gathered by the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy (SIBS) which is the primary source for innovation data in Canada. The measurement of innovation is the performance of the business enterprise sector, looking at strategic decisions, innovation, activities and operational tactics.    Continue reading Statistics Canada Releases the Results from the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy

Buy Local – Holiday Shopping

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and with that comes Christmas Carols, seasonal celebrations and gift giving!  Make shopping easier on yourself and support your community and the environment by shopping locally. No long drives to crowded shopping malls if you simply shop in your own home town, with people who serve you all year round and who can help make brilliant suggestions for everyone on your list.  Continue reading Buy Local – Holiday Shopping

Preparing for Your Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meetings (AGM) are meetings that are held annually for the members or ‘owners’ of an organization. The meeting allows the board of directors to demonstrate how they have governed the organization over the past year and an opportunity for members and directors to talk with each other.

All AGMs should cover the following topics:

  • Present the activities of the board for the previous year
  • Present the audited financial statements
  • Run elections for the board of directors
  • Appoint the financial reviewer for the next fiscal year

There are three key steps to a successful AGM

  1. Planning & preparation
  2. Successful execution of the AGM
  3. Follow-up/evaluation

Notice of Annual Meeting

Make sure you give plenty of advanced notice of the Annual General Meeting. The notice should include a draft agenda and other supplementary information that may be needed during the meeting. Notices can be sent by traditional mail or sent by email. Be  sure you have permission from the member before sending email notifications.

Other ways  to promote your AGM to a broader audience include:

  • Social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc
  • Unpaid media
  • Other organizations
  • Special invitations to sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, community groups, local dignitaries

Annual Report

The annual report  gives members, volunteers and sponsors reasons to support your organization based on important facts, changes that have been made, or new policies. The report includes:

  • Achievements and challenges
  • Vision and mission
  • Audited financial statement
  • Board of Directors and staff list and contact information
  • Performance measurements

Make your annual report interesting and have hard copies available as well as a digital version on your website.

Examples of Annual reports

Audited Financial Statement

An audited financial statement is a review of the organization’s financial statements such as income statement, cash flow statement or balance sheet, that have been audited.agm

  • Balance Sheet: Assets and Liabilities of the organization (including land and buildings)
  • Income Statement: Profit/Loss for the current fiscal year
  • Cash Flow Statement: shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents

AGM questions

Be prepared for potential questions that may be asked during your AGM by having a discussion with your board of directors: Are there any issues that the membership will want to know about? Are there any significant changes in the financial position of the organization? Have there been new or updated policies or procedures?

Have the information you need at hand and have trained staff in place to answer the questions. Make sure everyone on the board knows the answers to financial questions; the Treasurer is not the only one accountable for the finances. Furthermore, be honest and transparent when addressing major issues and explain the actions the board will take to remedy the situation.


Prepare a very detailed agenda for your AGM. Consider the length of the meeting, anticipated discussion time, motions to be made etc to minimize potential omissions and errors.

Sample AGM Agenda

  • Call to order
  • Establish quorum
  • Approval of minutes of previous AGM
  • President’s Report or Report of Board Activities
  • Financial Statements: Treasurer’s report, Auditor’s report
  • Executive Director or General Manager report
  • Election of directors
  • Resolutions/Motions requiring approval by the membership (constitution or by-laws)
  • Optional – Guest Speaker
  • Meeting Adjournment

Meeting Logistics

Determine the meeting logistics in advance: setting the date, time and location. Also, look for sponsorships for speakers, refreshments and door prizes. Know who is chairing the meeting in advance; note that the president does not have to chair the meeting. Create a member sign in to help confirm quorum, also have a member package that includes minutes, ballots, annual report etc. Have someone assigned to be the parliamentarian for the meeting, to answer question on the constitution or procedures of the meeting.

Engage Members

tablAGM’s are a great opportunity to engage members. Create name tags for everyone attending and set up the room with round or rectangular tables, and have the chairs face each other to encourage friendly conversation. Include refreshments as well as having a break for networking.  


Have your nomination process planned out in your constitution or by laws, whether you allow nominations on the floor or in advance. Include written policies/procedures, term for directors and an application process.

Always prepare in advance for an election, have the written policy/procedures ready and have the ballots prepared. Create an opportunity for nominees to address their membership either written or verbally. There are two different ways to give nominees an opportunity to address membership.

  1. If you have a nomination form, use this information as the bio for each nominee.
  2. If there are nominations on the floor, have each nominee speak for a few minutes.

An AGM is about motivation and celebration; remember to give recognition to volunteers, sponsors, leadership and youth. Also, celebrate the achievements and milestones and conclude with a meaningful motivational speaker.

After the AGM remember to evaluate the event with a short write up. Send out a survey to your members or have them complete one before they leave to give you some feedback for your next AGM.


Humans Wanted

It is a very familiar sentiment to those of us working in rural economic development.  There are too many unfilled positions crippling growth in many sectors of the rural economy.  We need more people. 

Workforce development can take many approaches but the one most discussed at the 2018 Rural Talks to Rural conference held this October 2018 in Blyth, Ontario was preparing youth to survive and thrive in an age of disruption. 

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) released a report on the Canadian workforce in 2018 called Humans Wanted – How Canadian Youth Can Thrive in the Age of Disruption.  John Stackhouse, VP of RBC, shared some of the findings of that report with conference delegates.   The report has some sobering messages.

Canada is facing a quiet crisis. Continue reading Humans Wanted

Agriculture Labour Market Survey: Available until November 30

The 2018 LMI survey is here! The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is surveying farm business owners and workers on the state of agricultural labour in Canada. We ask all owner-operators, workers and supporting stakeholder groups to take part to guide future action on the growing workforce crisis. Continue reading Agriculture Labour Market Survey: Available until November 30

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. Continue reading The Importance of Youth Engagement to Rural Ontario

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.


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