All posts by ON Regional Economic Development

Tips and Tricks for Labour Retention and Attraction in Rural Communities

So, what’s the problem?

To attract and retain workers, rural communities need to be more creative and attentive than their urban counterparts. In urban areas, there are a lot of features to attract workers– the variety of restaurants, tons of entertainment activities, and close proximity to all the services you could need. On the other hand, in rural communities, you need to work a bit harder to showcase the many wonderful features like short commute times, privacy, lower housing costs, and the beauty of your surrounding environment. On top of this, businesses need to put in effort to keep their workers by offering extra perks, a good working environment, or higher pay. But, higher pay isn’t always an option. Luckily, there are a ton of options that won’t break the bank and some options where you can cost-share with other local businesses.

Flexibility, meaningful work, and good work culture!

Continue reading Tips and Tricks for Labour Retention and Attraction in Rural Communities

Growing Local- How Two Farmers Facilitated Economic Growth in Their Community

As the summer season begins, one thing you can always count on are on the opening of local farmers’ markets. These markets are filled to the brim with an abundance of farm fresh produce ready to bring home and share with family and friends.  As you look forward to your weekly farmers’ market, you can be assured that you know where your food is coming from and that you are supporting your local economy.

Two farmers you might spot this summer are Jeffery and Lesley Lucassen, the owners of Victory Veg located in Oxford Country. Three years ago, they quit their jobs and decided v_v_tomatoe_26to move back to Jeffery’s families retired dairy farm. They began to renovate and revitalize the farm by transforming it into a modest vegetable farm. However, this year they have added a major upgrade; a 6,800-sf hydroponic tomato greenhouse. This greenhouse is home to 700 individual tomato plants ranging from cherries to cocktails to beef steaks. The Lucassen’s credit the knowledge and support they received from OMAFRA as vital to them. If they had any questions or concerns there was always someone to lend a helping hand. When it came to the growing of their plants OMAFRA Greenhouse Specialist Shalin Khosla played a key roll in helping them succeed with their new endeavor.

Jeffery warmly remarked that “He [Shalin Khosla] was like an advisor, so to speak. I could take a picture of an issue I had and send it to him and he would tell me exactly what it was. He was really knowledgeable.”

Before Jeffery and Lesley started Victory Veg, the old farm wasn’t really contributing to the economic development of the community. The Lucassen’s have really turned that around, the hustle and bustle that was once seen on the farm has returned. Although germination_smalltomatoes are their main product, they also have fields filled with beets, onions and all different kinds of lettuce – as well as broccoli, carrots and peppers, to name a few. They germinate these plants from seeds for months before planting them, so you know they are extremely fresh and tasty.

v_v_sign_3This summer when you go to your local farmers’ market, keep your eyes peeled for the Victory Veg stand. They are currently located at the Ingersoll farmers’ market and are also planning to be in Stratford and Cambridge. Or, if farmers’ markets aren’t your thing you can visit their store front in Beachville, they are listed on the Tourism Oxford ‘Growing Fresh map’.

Export Opportunities for Ontario Companies

Ontario Hosts Large International Food & Beverage Trade Show

Ontario recently hosted SIAL (Salon International de l ‘Alimentation) Canada, the largest international food and beverage tradeshow in Canada.

SIAL Canada brought many of the major players in the agri-food industry together under one roof at the Enercare Centre in Toronto the three-day exhibition..

Thousands of industry visitors flocked to Toronto to sample, learn about and purchase Ontario’s many unique food and beverage products for local and international food-service and grocery destinations.

Ontario Pavilion SIAL Canada 2019

Close to 150 Ontario businesses exhibited, presenting their exceptional agri-food products. These companies showcased one-of-a-kind products in categories such as, beverages, confectionary, bakery, snacks, cheeses, meats, aqua-culture technology, and more!

New to SIAL this year, was the Ontario Pavilion, which showcased twenty Ontario companies and provided networking space. These companies were busy at the show sampling their unique, delicious and innovative products and meeting with multiple foreign buyers with the intentions of selling their products in global markets.


The Honourable Minister Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, visited SIAL on Tuesday. The Minister toured the Ontario Pavilion and visited with a number of other exhibiting Ontario companies.

The Honourable Minister Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs cutting SIAL opening ribbon (third from the left)


Ontario also participated in SIAL’s hosted buyers’ program and welcomed buyers from the United States, Dubai, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Netherlands, and Mexico. While they were here, more than 70 Ontario companies met with the international buyers to discuss potential export opportunities for their businesses.

SIAL Canada will be hosted in Montreal in 2020, but will be back in Toronto in 2021. There is already a keen interest from Ontario companies to participate in upcoming SIAL Canada shows as they will have more opportunities to meet with foreign buyers and present their products to industry visitors.

By: Lisa Christmas

Economic Development Specialist Intern

Learn from Two Business Retention and Expansion Projects

The Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program is a collaborative effort between government, community, and businesses that identifies opportunities to help businesses expand, retain and create jobs. The program also encourages the implementation of agreed upon activities to achieve goals, and actions to improve the local business climate.

As part of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario 2019 Annual Conference, the Orillia Community Development Corporation and Almaguin Highlands shared their outcomes in a session entitled “Beyond the Final Report – Calibrating the Success of BRE Programs”

Continue reading Learn from Two Business Retention and Expansion Projects

Tips for Encouraging Volunteer Success- Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week is National Volunteer Week! National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate and thank Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers. Without volunteers’ dedicating their time and talent, many organizations simply would not exist.

Volunteers can be extremely helpful to any organization. They can help manage the workloads of other employees to make the work easier and less stressful for everyone involved. Volunteers can provide objective feedback and they can engage with locals to attract more attention to the organization or the community initiative.

Continue reading Tips for Encouraging Volunteer Success- Happy National Volunteer Week!

A Popular First Impressions Community Exchange is Now Available for Local Food

OMAFRA’s Local Food First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) program, allows communities to gain a fresh perspective on how their local food assets are seen through the eyes of first-time visitors. A FICE program means that:

  • Two communities are matched based on similarities (e.g., major sectors or population)
  • Each community recruits a group of volunteers to act as visitors
  • Those volunteers are trained by OMAFRA staff to conduct the visit
  • The visitors record their findings about the partner community
  • Observations are presented to each community
  • Action plans are created based on the feedback gathered

Continue reading A Popular First Impressions Community Exchange is Now Available for Local Food

Job Posting Analytics Have Been Added to Analyst

Analyst is an online tool that pools data from a range of sources to provide information on regional economies and workforces. It helps you better understand your region so you can make informed decisions.

A new module: Job Postings Analytics (JPA), has been added. Previously available in the US version of Analyst, this new addition to the Canadian version allows users to better understand the positions businesses are trying to fill, as well as the specific skills and qualifications they are looking for. Aggregated from millions of active postings on the open web, the data is de-duplicated, organized, and available now for all users with a subscription to Canadian labour market data.

This update provides five user-friendly reports, including the popular Job Posting Analytics (JPA) report. Packed with the same powerful filtering and search capabilities as the U.S. version, Canadian JPA has been fully regionalized to capture the unique job titles and occupations that make up the Canadian labour market.

Emsi job posting data provides real-time answers to pressing questions, including:

  • What are the top businesses posting jobs in your province?
  • What jobs are they posting?
  • What are the most in-demand skills for those jobs?

Curious about what Analyst can do for you? Visit our website to learn more.

Community Economic Development Learning Opportunities

Since February 2019, OMAFRA has delivered 12 Community Economic Development Sessions across Ontario.

Further sessions will run from March 21, 2019 to May 22, 2019. Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn the benefits of planning for economic development.

Community Economic Development (CED 101) is the process of fostering an environment that results in the creation of wealth and well-being for the benefit of the community. CED 101 training sessions are aimed at teaching participants the basics of community economic development and how to tailor these strategies to your community. These sessions will also demonstrate the value of planning in your community, the importance of collaborative roles of individuals and organizations and the tools and resources available to you to support region-specific efforts.

See below for training sessions to be held in your region:

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Choosing the Right Business Sampling Method for your BR+E Project

Selecting a suitable sampling method for your Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is a key step towards ensuring the overall success of your project. BR+E is a structured, action-oriented, community-based approach to business and economic development. It promotes job growth by helping communities learn about local business conditions in order to set priorities for initiatives that address needs and capitalize on opportunities.

Since 2008, over 7,000 businesses have been engaged as part of 172 projects that have been completed or are underway across the province. A good sample will allow for the effective implementation of effective actions, whereas a poorly selected sample may make it difficult to develop solid goals.

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Teeny Tiny Summits to be Held Across Ontario

This year, OMAFRA will be partnering with communities across Ontario to host five Teeny Tiny Summits. The summits are dedicated to fostering community economic development in Ontario’s smallest places. These opportunities will provide rural communities with access to a world-class community development expert, Peter Kenyon, who will discuss how communities can apply strategies.

Each summit will begin with a keynote address from Peter Kenyon, who will be giving his “Big Ideas for Small Places” talk. Next, there will be various panels focusing on how small communities have an impact in Ontario, followed by mentorship tables, Teeny Tiny Success stories and closing remarks.

The “Teeny Tiny Places” initiative began in 2015 in response to an observed lack of participation among very small communities in economic development programs. The summits provide participants with examples and relevant tools that will help while inspire and motive the work they do in their own community.

Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summits to be Held Across Ontario