Premier’s Award 2017 Winner – Greenbelt Microgreens

Innovation is vital to improving existing products, creating jobs, and growing Ontario’s economy. The Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recognizes and celebrates the innovation of Ontario producers, processors, agri-food organizations, and rural communities. Greenbelt Microgreens is the recipient of the 2017 Premier’s Award, for their work in growing microgreens year round in the Ontario greenbelt. Continue reading Premier’s Award 2017 Winner – Greenbelt Microgreens

Insights from over 1,100 BR+E Surveys

The results for the July 2016 – December 2017 roll up report are here! Over 1,100 businesses were surveyed across Ontario, and the key findings have been aggregated in an infographic. For clients with ongoing BR+E Projects, the roll up offers a benchmark to measure the success of their own BR+E Project against the Provincial average. In comparison, clients who are interested in starting a project can use the roll up report to help identify an area of focus for their project.

BRE roll up report 16-17

2 Workshop Sessions You Don’t Want to Miss at the 61st EDCO Conference

Economic development is constantly evolving and changing, forcing economic developers to think outside the box to continue growing local economies. This is exactly what the 61st annual Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) conference will be focusing on. This year’s theme is Mission Possible: Agents of Change, and is all about challenging norms and using creativity and innovation to take action.

There are a great selection of sessions to choose from but we are especially excited about two, being held on Tuesday February 6th:

Beyond Streetscapes, Best Practices for Recruiting Investment into Your Downtown – 11:00am

Downtown areas are the heart and soul of communities and vital to their survival.
Each features its own unique architecture, culture, traditions, heritage, and workforce. This workshop will highlight the key trends affecting downtown revitalization, and discuss tools and best practices to bring new business and investment into the downtown core. Continue reading 2 Workshop Sessions You Don’t Want to Miss at the 61st EDCO Conference

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

5 Steps to Successfully Recruiting Volunteers

Asking people to volunteer is not an easy task, but by recruiting volunteers it can provide benefits such as: helping spread the work among members of the organization, keep the organization alive, bring in new ideas and get work done.

By following these five steps, recruiting volunteers does not have to be a problem!

Step One: Define the Job

Continue reading 5 Steps to Successfully Recruiting Volunteers

Tips for Completing your Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Application

The Rural Economic Development (RED) program helps rural communities remove barriers to community economic development, through support for planning and implementation projects that benefit rural Ontario. The program is now open and will accept applications until December 1, 2017. The next intake is scheduled for July 30, 2018 to September 28, 2018. Continue reading Tips for Completing your Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Application

Best Practices for Downtown Revitalization

Building on the online model developed by the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice (AED COP), the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is launching an online community of practice for Downtown Revitalization in Ontario.

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 Continue reading Best Practices for Downtown Revitalization

Strategic Planning is a Great way to Keep your Organization on Track.

Strategic planning should be embedded into the regular operation of any organization. It helps organizations make sound decisions to guide its activities over time.

OMAFRA has partnered with the Ontario Business Improvement Areas Association (OBIAA) to deliver a free program to build organizational capacity using the Strategic Planning Train-the-Trainer (TTT) program. The program engages and trains a core team of volunteers from within the BIA to strengthen their leadership skills and build a network of support and collaboration that will assist them in creating a strategic plan for their organization.

To participate, BIAs must:

  • Be willing to participate in the strategic planning process
  • Have a commitment from the Board to the process
  • Not be in a crisis situation
  • Have five volunteers (the Core Team) that will commit to be trained to facilitate strategic planning

The program includes five hands-on sessions delivered via webinar, running on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm starting November 28, 2017 until March 2018. Volunteers will learn about each stage of OMAFRA’s strategic planning framework, and how it provides a foundation for the next stage. As homework, Core Team members will facilitate that stage of the strategic planning process with their own organization. If you missed the Lunch and Learn on October 24, the slide deck below provides an overview of the program:

Continue reading Strategic Planning is a Great way to Keep your Organization on Track.

Performance Measurement Training for Economic Developers

The Economic Developers Council of Ontario is pleased to announce this new workshop series, presented in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Performance Measurement is the process of monitoring, measuring, assessing and reporting on the progress that a plan, such as an economic development plan is making towards the desired outcomes.

What to expect:

· Full day Performance Measurement training
· Use the resource that can help you improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your economic development investment.
· The training will provide a seamless, step-by-step approach to understanding, designing, communicating and measuring the performance of economic development activities.
· Participants will have the opportunity to apply skills with activities using the Measuring Up Guidebook 

Please Note: Attendance by registration only. Fee: $60 plus tax (includes a copy of the Guidebook)


Whitby, November 27th – click here

Lunch will be provided.


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

Regional Economic Development Branch blog focusing on agriculture and rural economic development for Ontario