All posts by Stephen Morris

Economic Development Specialist currently leading the Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) and the Newcomer and Youth Indicators programs.

Place to Grow: Agri-food Innovation Initiative intake 2 now opened

What is the timing of the Intake?

The next application intake for the Place to Grow program will be from January 6 to January 27, 2020.

Overview webinar on the Place to Grow: Agri-food Innovation Initiative 

OMAFRA staff will be conducting two public webinars to provide an overview of the Initiative, and the process for applying to the program.

The first session is scheduled for January 9th 9:30-11:00 a.m. The second session is scheduled for January 16th 9:30-11:00 a.m. To register to attend the free webinars complete the online registration form or contact or 1-877-424-1300

What is the Place to Grow: Agri-food Innovation Initiative? Continue reading Place to Grow: Agri-food Innovation Initiative intake 2 now opened

Celebrating the Cultivation of Agri-food Innovation in Ontario

The 2019 Excellence in Agriculture program is open to receive applications until October 11, 2019.

The Excellence in Agriculture program recognizes agri-food innovations and advancements that demonstrate leadership, product development or technology advancement that will benefit the sector. The innovations recognized will be those that have potential to help move the agri-food sector forward, so it is better positioned to thrive here at home and on the global stage.

In addition to primary producers, processors, agri-food innovators and agri-food organizations, the 2019 Excellence in Agriculture program has a new category to recognize outstanding youth leaders in the agri-food sector. Youth under 29, who are residents of Ontario and have an innovation with a direct link to the agri-food sector, are encouraged to apply.

Application criteria can be found at

The top innovation in each of the five categories will receive a plaque in recognition of their achievement and will be featured in a promotional video. All recipients will have access to the Excellence in Agriculture wordmark to be used for marketing and promotional purposes, and up to 15 honorable mention recipients will receive a certificate.

For further information please contact the Agricultural Information Contact Center at 1-877-424-1300

NEW 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 (March 26, 10am- 12pm and April 16, 10am-12pm). Click here to register. COURSE NOW FULL – WAIT LIST AVAILABLE 

This interactive training will: Continue reading NEW Agriculture Economic Development Training

New long-term Research on business start-up and closures in Canada

A recent report from the Government of Canada studied the characteristics and performance of newly established businesses. On average, 96,000 new businesses entered the Canadian economy every year (2002-2014), representing about 9.4% (annual rate) of all Canadian firms.

This study is important for economic development officers (EDOs) undertaking business retention activities as it highlights how the Canadian economy functions, particularly the natural churn that occurs as businesses start, mature, and decline.  Based on this research, EDOs should be able to determine ways to help increase the survival rates of businesses in your communities.

Key findings from this study include: Continue reading New long-term Research on business start-up and closures in Canada

Sharing of (somewhat) International Best Practices on BR+E

I was invited to present on Business Retention & Expansion at the recent International Economic Development Council annual conference in Toronto. The session explored common denominators for success and highlighted unique attributes of the Halifax Partnership, the Ontario and the British Columbia programs.

Continue reading Sharing of (somewhat) International Best Practices on BR+E

What Running Has Taught Me About Setting Goals

I enjoy running … most of the time.

To help stay motivated I sign up for races. Without a race to train toward it’d be easy to skip runs on cold-rainy days. This year, surrounded by 15,0000 other runners, I ran the Ottawa half-marathon, for the second time. Races are wonderful motivators, they are hard, and they test you on so many levels. The results of a race (your finish time) are black and white, no questions asked. Continue reading What Running Has Taught Me About Setting Goals

Attracting and Retaining Youth in Rural Communities

Attracting and retaining youth is one of the many challenges faced by rural communities.

The Newcomer and Youth Community Indicators is a tool that was designed to assist rural communities looking to better understand their attractiveness to both newcomers and youth. Screenshot18It is a free Excel-based tool that includes information for every municipality in Ontario. The tool was developed in partnership with the Rural Ontario Institute and the Conference Board of Canada, and includes the most recent Statistics Canada data available.

The tool provides communities with comparative data that can help them make informed decisions and strategies for retaining and attracting youth. Few communities have an accurate picture of how they differ from their neighbours or other similar communities across the province. The tool allows communities to make decisions based on a sound understanding of their strengths and weaknesses compared to other communities. Continue reading Attracting and Retaining Youth in Rural Communities

Preparing Effective Funding Proposals

One of the biggest challenges an organization faces is receiving external funding, as there are various challenges associated with the process. The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Regional Economic Development Branch (REDB) partnered to deliver a session entitled “Preparing Effective Funding Proposals” at the recent Economic Developer Council of Ontario 2016 annual conference, which was designed to address these challenges

The goal of the session was to provide participants with an understanding of the proposal writing process, as well as provide an overview of some of the regional and rural funding programs administered by the ministries.

Below are the slides from the session.

If you are in need of help with your funding proposal, contact our Regional Advisors, as they have the skills and expertise needed to properly assist you.


How Infographics Support Business Retention + Expansion Projects

One of the challenges with Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) projects is effectively communicating the vast amount of information that is collected. As part of the BR+E program, it is important to develop a final report and action plan. This plan will act as a full and complete record of the project. Its also recommend that Coordinators consider writing a short summary that can be shared with businesses and the broader community. One of the ways to achieve this is by using Infographics. Continue reading How Infographics Support Business Retention + Expansion Projects

Population changes in Rural Ontario

According to a recent factsheet prepared by the Rural Ontario Institute entitled “Change in non-metro population 2014” less than half of the rural counties in Ontario had population increases over the last three years.  Over the same period, however,  all urban counties experienced population increases.

Ray Bollman the author of the factsheet highlights the long term importance of population change to a community:

“Population growth or decline impacts housing demand, labour markets, consumer spending levels and the need for public services such as hospitals and schools. Population growth is considered by many as an indicator of economic vitality – i.e. jobs are being created and/or that it is a desirable place to live.”

Continue reading Population changes in Rural Ontario