All posts by Stephen Morris

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

Funding For Sectors Intake NOW Open

Ontario’s government is helping to grow the province’s agri-food and agri-products sectors by launching the Place to Grow: Agri-food Innovation Initiative – a program which will help drive innovation, reduce red tape, and address industry priorities. The “Funding for Sectors” stream and will support agriculture and food value-chain partners in address emerging sector challenges and opportunities to create sector wide benefits.

This cost-share intake will remain open until November 26, 2020.


Programming Overview

Funding supports agriculture and food value chain partners by offering cost-share funding opportunities to address identified industry priorities and outcomes for Ontario in the following areas:

Continue reading Funding For Sectors Intake NOW Open

How to Structure an Economic Recovery Team

Our previous blog post, The Importance of Collaboration to Support Economy Recovery, discussed how initiatives that are built on collaboration will be stronger and more resilient. The next two posts will delve into best practices to consider when structuring your recovery team so it can best support your local businesses.

Economic Recovery Management Committees or Economic Recovery Taskforces provide focus and lead the efforts throughout the recovery process. The team has several core functions and roles including:

Continue reading How to Structure an Economic Recovery Team

The Importance of Collaborating to Support Economic Recovery

COVID-19 has brought with it, unprecedented challenges for the economy that can be difficult for individual businesses to tackle alone. To help communities during these times where much remains unknown, organizations need to work together and collaborate to achieve effective outcomes.

This three-part blog series will discuss how organizational development can support economic recovery through leadership and team efforts.

Recovery will be complex and will likely involve issues that are too large for any one organization to solve alone. Recovery efforts will require the collective efforts of new partners and stakeholders across multiple sectors. Every participant will need to identify and use their strengths to contribute towards a solution that will result in a noticeable impact. Collaboration requires some degree of effort from everyone.

Continue reading The Importance of Collaborating to Support Economic Recovery

Top Ten Impacts COVID-19 is Having on Local Economic Development and Ways that Economic Developers can Help

The rapidly emerging impacts of COVID-19 on local communities has left economic developers seeking guidance on how to best respond to the crisis and offer effective support measures. Working together, elected officials, partners, local businesses, community members and economic developers can implement actions to mitigate the negative outcomes of this outbreak and work towards a more resilient future.

The International Economic Development Council held a webinar in early April to discuss a ten-point action plan for how economic developer organizations (EDOs) at all levels of government can work through a three phase recovery plan: mobilizing to help their local businesses now (Phase 1), preparing to reopen safely and securely (Phase 2) and positioning economies for longer run recovery Phase 3).


Continue reading Top Ten Impacts COVID-19 is Having on Local Economic Development and Ways that Economic Developers can Help

Effective business outreach during COVID-19

Businesses in all sectors will be impacted by COVID-19 in some manner. In order to support them effectively, economic developers will need to do some outreach and consultation to assess these impacts and determine the needs of the businesses in their communities.

This will be particularly difficult at this moment, as businesses struggle with various priorities. Here are some tips to connect with your businesses effectively.

bre_logo_1400x570Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) is a concept that can be activated for times of crisis. It is a structured and community-based approach to business and economic development. It helps communities learn about issues facing local businesses and sets priorities to address these needs where possible to help strengthen the economy. It is important to recognize that few communities can do everything they would like to do to support their existing businesses.

Continue reading Effective business outreach during COVID-19

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