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

CAP Special Provisions and Farmer Mental Health Resources

Owning a farm is much more than a business; it is a way of life. As with most businesses, there are some very stressful times that can weigh you down. During busy seasons or critical production periods, it is normal to be faced with time constraints and pressures and facing major financial issues can multiply these pressures many times.  During these times, and with the added reality of COVID-19, these demands can put anyone involved in the business of agriculture under a great deal of stress, often impacting one’s mental health.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) cares about the well-being of farmers and farm families and recognizes the unique challenges that can lead to mental health issues. In an effort to support Ontario farmers and their families experiencing mental health issues, OMAFRA has made various resources available to anyone needing some help during a difficult time. These include:

Continue reading CAP Special Provisions and Farmer Mental Health Resources

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.

Black History Month 2021

It has been 25 years since the Government of Canada declared February as Black History Month. In 1995, the Honourable Jean Augustine (pictured above) coordinated a breakthrough unanimous vote to officially designate February as Black History Month in Canada. Augustine is the first Black woman elected as a Canadian Member of Parliament and the first Black woman appointed to the federal cabinet. She has held roles such as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, and continues to dedicate her life to advocate for social justice and equality.

Continue reading Black History Month 2021

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)

North AND Eastern Ontario Local Food Virtual Conference

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique
opportunities and pressures for local food systems. The
current situation has demonstrated how critical these
systems are, as well as exposing weaknesses that make
them vulnerable. The North & Eastern Ontario Local Food Virtual Conference provides an opportunity for people to share their experiences and provide diverse perspectives on local food.

About this event:

The virtual conference consists of four free sessions, taking place every Wednesday starting March 10, from 10am – 12pm. The goal of these sessions is to explore the hard-won lessons learned from the pandemic that can help strengthen local food businesses and organizations.

Continue reading North AND Eastern Ontario Local Food Virtual Conference

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