Category Archives: Economic Development


A recent survey of rural economic development practitioners across Canada revealed that business outreach and enhanced BR+E programs are two key avenues being explored to aid economic recovery. Business engagement and the use of business-level data to guide strategic planning have historically been core components of effective economic development practice. The current pandemic has reinforced the need to ensure that business needs are identified and addressed in an effective and efficient manner.

Join other BR+E practitioners on Thursday, May 6, 2021 for a panel discussion on a variety of approaches and outcomes relating to three theme areas:

  • Using Focus Groups for Business Engagement – Simcoe County
  • Springing to BR+E Actions during a Pandemic – Wellington County
  • The Art of and Science of Collaboration for BR+E – Dufferin County & the Town of Orangeville

Presentations by panelists representing the communities listed above will be followed by a discussion and Q&A segment.

To register for the event, follow this link

OMAFRA provides economic development tools, training and technical guidance to rural Ontario communities. Follow this link for more information on the OMAFRA BR+E program.

Learn How Clients are Using ANALYST to Inform Their Planning Decisions

Analyst is an online tool that pulls data from a range of sources to provide information on regional economies and workforces. Clients can use Analyst to understand the demand for educational programs, identify the skills that employers need, communicate the value of higher education to parents and students, connect jobseekers to the labor market, find the right talent, and so much more. 

But, over time, a common pattern has emerged. No matter the use or application, almost every client uses Analyst to do the following: 

  1. Discover
  2. Strategize
  3. Lead
  4. Build relationships
Continue reading Learn How Clients are Using ANALYST to Inform Their Planning Decisions

Registration Open: Online Agriculture Economic Development Training

If your community is looking for ways to support your local agriculture sector; consider attending the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) online Agriculture Economic Development Training.

The course is split into two sessions and registration is free.

  • Tuesday April 27, 10am – 11:30am
  • Tuesday May 4, 10am – 11:30am

This interactive training will:

Continue reading Registration Open: Online Agriculture Economic Development Training

Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Annual General Meeting

With the ongoing pandemic, Annual General Meetings (AGM) are being held in a virtual environment using video conferencing. Video conferencing is a good option when meetings can’t be held in-person. Participants still have the ability to be heard and seen in real-time using online meeting platforms.

Now more than ever, it is very important to plan for your AGM well in advance. This includes setting the date, time, downloading or purchasing the necessary online meeting platform, and sending meeting materials and links to attendees at least a week before the AGM. Although you may be hosting your AGM within the comfort of your own home, you still want to maintain a professional presence.

Here are some tips on conference call/video etiquette:

Continue reading Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Annual General Meeting

Register Now: Spring 2021 BR+E Coordinator Training

Do you want to learn how to engage the business community so you can strengthen your local economy? Consider attending the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) three-part Business Retention + Expansion (BR+E) training in April:

  • Thursday, April 8th 10:30am – 12pm
  • Thursday, April 15th 10:30am – 12pm
  • Thursday, April 22nd 10:30am – 12pm

As communities explore ways to support local businesses and foster post-pandemic growth, a BR+E project can assist by:

  • prioritizing business engagement
  • identifying key challenges and opportunities
  • provide insights into how to develop long-term goals and actions

BR+E fundamentals (spanning all four stages of the OMAFRA BR+E process) will be covered during the three training blocks.

Register for the BR+E training. More information about the OMAFRA BR+E program.

Advancing Opportunities in the South Korean Market to Ontario Exporters

Registration is now open for the FREE South Korea Market Opportunities Webinar occurring on March 10, 2021 from 7:30 – 9:15 PM EST. The Ministries of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) in collaboration with, the Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) and the Canada Embassy in Korea will host the webinar. This dynamic and engaging event will educate Ontario agri-food and non-food consumer product manufacturers about existing export opportunities to the South Korean market.

Continue reading Advancing Opportunities in the South Korean Market to Ontario Exporters

Using Focus Groups for Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E)

A thorough Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) exercise can take several months to complete. However, there may be times when an economic development practitioner may need to gather data quickly. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with the County of Simcoe and the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury to address this challenge as they developed their COVID-19 Recovery Plans. Instead of the usual one-on-one business interviews, we used a series of virtual focus groups to collect the business information they needed to develop recovery strategies within a short timeframe.

Our focus groups consisted of a small group of people that would typically be engaged in a BR+E exercise. We used a short-list of questions (no more than four questions per hour of focus group discussion) targeting immediate and long-term opportunities and challenges.

Continue reading Using Focus Groups for Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E)

Findings From the 2020 OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Surveys

BR+E continues to take center stage for many communities across Ontario as they navigate through shifting local economic conditions. Data gathered through BR+E interviews and surveys can provide a window into the challenges and opportunities faced by many businesses. This precedes effective, targeted actions and strategies to facilitate the growth and success of local businesses.

While a typical BR+E survey is extensive and provides several opportunities for probing and in-depth discussion, the current economic climate may call for a different approach. Some communities would prefer a streamlined set of questions to quickly identify and address major issues and facilitate business growth. The OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Survey contains 15 questions under the following topics:

  • General Information
  • Workforce
  • Resources and Supports
  • Looking ahead

Below are some highlights from data collected between April 2020 and December 2020 by communities using the OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Survey:

Continue reading Findings From the 2020 OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Surveys

REGISTER NOW – Why you should attend the 2021 EDCO Conference

Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) Annual Conference and Showcase will take place virtually this year every Wednesday from January 20-February 24, 2021 (9:00-11:15am). The conference series will feature presentations and workshops that are designed to challenge you to learn new and innovative ways to solve real-life challenges facing many economic development practitioners in Ontario. Sessions will be live and will also be recorded for the attendees’ convenience.

On January 20 at 9:00am, Lidy Romanuk, the EDCO 2021 President, and Janice Stein (pictured left), the founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto will commence the conference. The keynote presentation will be presented by Enbridge Gas and attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Continue reading REGISTER NOW – Why you should attend the 2021 EDCO Conference


The Rural Economic Development (RED) program supports activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and opens doors to rural economic development. The program is now open and will accept applications until February 1, 2021.

If you missed our program webinar, you can access a recording of one of the sessions here.

The slides below were presented during the session and on providing some helpful tips to consider in completing your application.

For more assistance on designing your project, assessing eligibility, and working through the final checks before submission, contact your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor.

Applicants are required to read the program guidelines before completing an application. The program guidelines provide detailed information on eligible applicants, project types, and costs, as well as the process for submitting an application and the process that will be used to assess the application.

For more information on the program including guidelines, applications, and approved projects, please visit