Category Archives: Economic Development

Stories That Demonstrate Rural Renaissance

The Rural Ontario Institute has created a Rural Rebound sharing platform that showcases encouraging stories and positive examples drawn from across rural Ontario. This online platform offers case studies about creative solutions from community and non profit organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurs. These stories share a common theme of effective leadership and collaboration. The platform is also a source of reliable up-to-date information on local and regional government efforts, funding and grant opportunities, research findings, webinar links and more.

Below are a few great case studies shared on the platform:

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8 Key Takeaways for Economic Developers from the 2020 Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI) Conference

The 2020 BREI Conference took place during the week of June 15, 2020 and featured a variety of presenters from across North America. Academics and practitioners presented on emerging BR+E practices and guided discussions centered around the role of BR+E as an economic recovery tool. Below are 8 key takeaways from the conference:

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Road to Economic Recovery Using BR+E for Rural Communities

A strong Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program can help communities understand and address prospects and issues facing their business community. Amidst a global COVID-19 outbreak that has significantly impacted local economies, it is crucial, now more than ever, to consider BR+E as a means to:

  • assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak to the local economy
  • identify current and potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead

breBR+Es work by using survey questions to conduct live interviews with the business community. Once the data has been collected it is used to formulate actions to support the business community. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA’s) BR+E program helps communities develop situation specific surveys which ask meaningful questions that in turn provide the data needed to plan for economic recovery and future resiliency.

This post will examine the importance of undertaking BR+E in the current context.

Why is BR+E important now?

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Reopening Physically-Distanced Downtowns

As Ontario transitions through the Framework for Reopening Our Province, downtowns and main street areas are required to operate in different ways than they have in the past. On June 1, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs facilitated an online Community of Practice event to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with the reopening of downtowns. Speakers Stephannie Schlichter, Director of Economic and Creative Development of the City of Barrie, Noella Rinaldo, Executive Director of the Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Area, and Kay Matthews, Executive Director of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), provided their input on some of the methods and techniques that their municipalities have introduced to support the reopening of downtowns.

A few key ways were identified as quick, high-impact tasks that municipalities can implement in downtowns to attract residents and boost their economic recovery:

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Examples of Economic Recovery Teams

In the past couple months, Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) has hosted a 2-part webinar series discussing emergency economic task forces. The series covered key economic challenges and successes from both rural and urban perspectives. Fellow EDCO members Craig Kelley – Director of Property and Development with the County of Renfrew, Rebecca Mustard – Manager of Economic Development with the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Martin Bohl – Sector Manager with the City of Brampton shared insights on their local efforts to support their community in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Structuring an emergency economic task force was discussed as a means to support local businesses and guide the community back toward a thriving economy.

Why are economic task forces beneficial?

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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:

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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.

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Business and Farm Resources to Support Your Community During COVID-19

The Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice held a webinar on April 15, 2020, to discuss issues in the agriculture and food sector due to COVID-19 and how to help communities during these difficult times.

One concern expressed  is the lack of  agriculture labourers. The agricultural community is worried that they will not get their full complement of temporary seasonal workers, and that would impact their ability to plant and harvest this season. The goal of the Community of Practice it to help find local and regional solutions to address these types of issues.

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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).


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