Category Archives: Downtown Revitalization

Planning your Work and Getting some Quick Wins

In this next entry in our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program, we take a look at preparing your preliminary work plan, and the importance of “quick wins” to the initiative.

Before starting to collect and analyze data, you need an overall work plan to guide the Management Committee and Coordinator over the duration of the initiative. The team should have a strong grasp of the entire strategic process when developing the work plan, to ensure the scheduling of tasks considers:

  • The potential to use data collected in one activity (e.g. business and resident surveys) to inform subsequent activities (e.g. community design workshop)
  • The availability of resources and volunteers to carry out the tasks when required, including the level of effort and time required from the coordinator
  • The municipal budget planning process, and the need to submit short and long term projects for municipal council approval in the preceding budget year

Your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor can assist you with scheduling major activities, and provide templates to assist with the development of a comprehensive work plan.

Developing your work plan also offers a chance to tackle one of the key challenges you may face – keeping the team and community engaged and energized in the initiative, particularly through the less visible activities like data collection and analysis. The work planning stage is a great time to identify and plan for some highly-visible, high-impact activities that will help to promote and generate ongoing support for downtown revitalization.

Continue reading Planning your Work and Getting some Quick Wins

Building a Team for Downtown Revitalization

Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program, this entry will take a look at building your downtown revitalization team.

The motivation, energy, and commitment required for successful revitalization should come primarily from the community. Those from outside of the community may provide interesting insights, but revitalization only works when members of the community, local government, and local businesses commit to ensuring the long-term success of revitalizing their downtown.

building a team chartA revitalized downtown has the potential to benefit the entire community, so the lead organization may identify potential partners from across the community, and not just within the downtown area. Organizations like Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), Chambers of Commerce, service clubs, and non-profit organizations can be key resources to engage and align with. The organizations and individuals to engage will depend on the specific characteristics of the community. Continue reading Building a Team for Downtown Revitalization

Expanded Digital Main Street Program to Support Ontario Small Businesses

The Digital Main Street program, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and delivered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), will soon be available across the province to help ‘main street’ businesses become more digital.  The program will be live on August 24, 2018, and as part of Ontario’s Main Street Enhancement Initiative, it will help small businesses improve how they use digital tools and provide them with techniques to become even more successful. Continue reading Expanded Digital Main Street Program to Support Ontario Small Businesses

Recap: Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice

The second online Community of Practice for Ontario’s downtown revitalization community was held in late March. The participants learned about a range of ways in which physical improvements made to downtown areas have contributed to business success.

Here’s a quick summary:

Click here to download the introductory presentation. Continue reading Recap: Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice

March Downtown Revitalization Online Community of Practice

Building on the success of the first online Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice (DRCOP) held in November 2017, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is pleased to launch the second session in the series, to be held on March 29th, 2018, from 10:30am-12:00pm.

What is a Community of Practice? It is an informally structured group that allows practitioners with an interest in economic development or downtown development to promote leading practices, share success stories, and build capabilities for supporting downtown revitalization across the province. Membership is open and attendance at any individual event is optional, as the topics will vary based on interest expressed by the group. Continue reading March Downtown Revitalization Online Community of Practice

New Main Street Revitalization Initiative

Vibrant main streets help attract visitors, create jobs and increase the competitiveness of small businesses, which are the backbone of small, rural communities. At this year’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) announced the Main Street Revitalization Initiative, a new initiative that will be administered by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and its rural arm, ROMA, to support the revitalization of downtown and main streets across Ontario.

The province is investing up to $26 million in the initiative, which is part of a larger $40 million investment in the Main Street Enhancement Initiative focused on strengthening communities’ planning and implementation activities in downtown and main street areas, as well as providing business support for capital improvements, enhanced digital capabilities and improvements to energy efficiencies. Continue reading New Main Street Revitalization Initiative

Lessons Learned from the Annual International Downtown Association

Themed “AuthentiCITY” the International Downtown Association (IDA) recently held its 63rd annual Conference and Trade Show in Winnipeg. The conference focused on examining the role of place management organizations in shaping prosperous downtown and commercial districts. After taking a few weeks to collect my thoughts, here are some of the key topics I continue to think about.

The uncertain future of retail: The popular media narrative of e-commerce growth signalling the end of physical “bricks and mortar” retail is easy to believe. However, sessions and speakers at the conference highlighted the nuances missing in that narrative – trends like the strong growth of e-retail but still limited overall share of Continue reading Lessons Learned from the Annual International Downtown Association