Category Archives: Economic Development

Teeny Tiny Summits Create a Big Impact!

Small communities have particular needs and assets when it comes to building strong economies. This was the topic of conversation at the June 28-29 Teeny Tiny Summits, which drew over 200 volunteers, staff, local councillors, and support organizations.

Participants were treated to an inspiring dialogue with keynote speaker Peter Kenyon, a social capitalist and community enthusiast. Over the last four decades, Peter has worked with more than 2000 communities all over the world seeking to facilitate fresh and creative ways that stimulate community and local economic renewal. Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summits Create a Big Impact!

Budgeting for Downtown Revitalization?

Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) Downtown Revitalization Program (DR), this entry will take a look at the estimated costs a community could expect to incur, and strategies to manage the cost of the initiative.

Like all economic development activities, downtown revitalization is a long-term and ongoing process. OMAFRA’s DR program is a comprehensive four-stage process aimed at moving from foundational strategic directions and actions to tangible results in a two to three year timeframe. The first year is largely focused on the development of a strategic plan and actions for downtown revitalization. An additional one to two years is a realistic expectation for the community to see initial outcomes, monitor progress, and start making strategic adjustments as needed. This process is expected to generate two types of costs: Continue reading Budgeting for Downtown Revitalization?

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

Refresher for Downtown Revitalization

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Downtown Revitalization Program takes a comprehensive four-stage approach to support the efforts of rural communities who want to revitalize their historic downtowns. As part of the program, OMAFRA provides the Downtown Revitalization Coordinator’s Manual, which is designed to support communities that have identified downtown revitalization as an economic development priority. As with many of OMAFRA’s other program resources, the Downtown Revitalization Coordinator’s Manual is now available online, at no cost,  just fill out the form on the OMAFRA website. Continue reading Refresher for Downtown Revitalization

Thoughts from the Main Street Now Conference

Place seems to matter more than ever, and Main Street areas across the United States are finding ways to re-assert their economic importance despite emerging ‘disruptive’ advancements in retail (e.g. e-commerce). That was the underlying theme in many of the sessions I attended at the recent 2017 Main Street Now conference in Pittsburgh, pit 22Pennsylvania. Attended by more than 1,600 people, the annual conference brings together key private and public sector decision makers to share successes and challenges in preservation-based downtown revitalization.

After a few weeks to collect my thoughts, here are the ideas that continue to resonate with me on ways to improve downtown districts: Continue reading Thoughts from the Main Street Now Conference

Input-Output Predictive Scenario Report

AnalystUsing Analyst’s Input-Output Scenario report you can predict the expected impact of a business loss or gain in your community in terms of  jobs, sales, or wages, and how that event would impact other industries regionally. It gives you the ability to “shock” an economy and measure the impacts.

It also gives you the predictive ability to see:

  • The effect of a new company locating in the local regional economy,
  • The effect of adding jobs to an existing industry sector (such as a major company expansion)
  • The effect of losing a company/losing jobs from the local regional economy

For example, if we wanted to understand the impact of an animal feed mill’s in rural Ontario. We would go through the following steps to get the information that will help us understand the impacts.

First Step: choose a region Continue reading Input-Output Predictive Scenario Report

Driving the conversation forward with youth in Perth County

Across rural Ontario, where youth out-migration to urban centres is a concerning trend; finding new ways to engage young people in their communities is increasingly important. More needs to be done to incorporate the voice of youth in local planning and development processes. 

“Youth will only return home if they feel they have left something behind”

Jacinda Rudolph of LaunchPad at Rural Ontario Summit, 2016

Perth County is one community that is making progress on this front. The county knows that the success of tomorrow’s workforce is deeply dependent on being able to stop the out-migration of its youth population, and they are taking an active approach to ensuring this trend stops.

The communities of Perth County are taking innovative steps to incorporate the voice of youth in the narrative of community development.

“Youth are important contributors to our economy and to our communities’ overall quality of life,” says Meredith Forget, Economic Development Officer for Perth County. “Youth are entrepreneurs, performers, volunteers, mentors, community leaders, employees to small businesses and consumers in our local economies. Youth have a significant impact on the vitality of their communities, and we are looking for ways to support them – in growing, learning, working and making a home in rural Ontario.”

The Perth4Youth Strategic Planning initiative is wrapping up after many months of hard work, community consultations and action planning. This initiative to date has been led by Perth County’s four lower tier municipalities and the cities of Stratford and St. Marys, with support from their respective municipal councils.

To enrich data gathering efforts for the broader Perth4Youth initiative, a unique youth focused, civic engagement process was developed and implemented. This process has brought together multiple community and educational partners to deliver a unique applied learning opportunity for students, and a medium to better express and capture the community’s youth voice. This initiative creates the opportunity to incorporate data collected by youth, for youth, into community based strategic planning.

Three energetic and motivated students from Listowel District Secondary School (LDSS) students took on this project last semester as part of their coursework in this their 4th and final year of high school.

This youth engagement pilot was designed to:

  • Engage students in their communities, and foster an appreciation for the value of civic engagement and municipal governance
  • Support students along the way in “learning by doing”
  • Gather data to inform the Perth4Youth strategic planning process and future community action to support youth.

In carrying out their in-school consultations with their peers, the LDSS student team produced: Continue reading Driving the conversation forward with youth in Perth County

Ontario Business Improvement Areas Releases Return ON Investment Report

The “first ever” report of this kind,  establishes a baseline of the economic and social contribution of Business Improvement Areas to Ontario’s communities.

The Return on Investment of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) project was spearheaded by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) and Toronto Area Business Improvement Association (TABIA) and funded through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA).

The primary goal of the year-long project was to:

  • Establish a set of common indicators for BIAs across Ontario
  • Create a pool of tools and metrics for BIAs to share their impact and analyze trends
  • Understand what is happening in Ontario’s downtowns and mainstreets
  • Outline existing gaps in the data base and how to go about filling them

The consultative process throughout the project was extensive and included a broad range of input from a full spectrum of BIAs, municipalities, and other stakeholders.

“Our goal was to provide the over 310 BIAs across Ontario with the understanding they need to manage and grow their capacity to be vital partners to their members, to their communities and to their municipalities,”

Kay Matthews, OBIAA’s Executive Director.

The ROI Report identifies that BIAs are:

  • Unique in scale and geography
  • Big on passion
  • Ground Zero for business innovation and incubation because they support small businesses

Here are some key observations from the report:

  • BIAs can drive employment, with the survey of 162 BIAs across the province highlighting BIAs that are attracting notable levels of employment to an area (increased the daytime population by over 800% in one BIA), and BIAs that account for a significant proportion (ranging from 0.2:1 to 0.9:1) of the jobs in a community.
  • An average of 6% of BIA membership represents new businesses.
  • Based on Real Estate Board data, the cost of a single family home or condominium within 500m of a BIA rose on average 46% between 2011 and 2016.
  • 75% of BIAs have a significant stock of properties that are either heritage-designated or of heritage interest.
  • BIAs produce an estimated total of 1200 events each year, and another 1300 produced by other community organizations land within the BIA boundaries.
  • Over half (55%) of reporting BIAs had members leveraging façade programs, generating an average 2.5:1 private sector to municipality investment ratio with an average of $0.17 per capita invested

Continue reading Ontario Business Improvement Areas Releases Return ON Investment Report

Add Value to Your Agricultural Business: Learn How to Turn Your Ideas into Reality

Take the OMAFRA course, Exploring Value Added Opportunities, to learn whether adding value to your products and services is right for your business.  Register today for the March 31 workshop to be held in Sunderland, Ontario! Your registration fee includes resource materials, lunch and refreshments.

Ever wondered about turning your fruit into jam?  Ever dreamed about making gourmet ready-to-eat meals with your produce?

Take the Exploring Value Added Opportunities (EVAO) course to help you increase your profits through the creation of new products and services or value-added opportunities at your farm or food business. Our course can help you: Continue reading Add Value to Your Agricultural Business: Learn How to Turn Your Ideas into Reality

3 Lessons on Innovation from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario Annual Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the 60th annual Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) conference that took place in February. Delegates from across Ontario included economic development officers, municipal elected officials, staff from several Ontario ministries, and industry leaders representing manufacturing, business, planning, IT, and tourism.

The theme this year was Driven by Innovation. The following are my top three takeaways from the EDCO conference. Continue reading 3 Lessons on Innovation from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario Annual Conference