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.

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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.

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GET YOUR BRAND NOTICED – Private Label Week Virtual Trade Show

The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) 2021 Virtual Trade Show is now Live! This virtual event is taking place February 1-5, 2021 and features online exhibits and private virtual meetings, where retail buyers can search for products and network live with store brands suppliers. This year, eight Canadian businesses will be exhibiting within OMAFRA’s Ontario Pavilion.

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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:

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Restaurants Canada Show 2021 – Live Online

Restaurants Canada’s annual food service and hospitality trade event for the first time ever, will take place virtually this year from February 28-March 3, 2021.

Register NOW to exhibit in the Ontario Pavilion and SAVE!

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is partnering with Restaurants Canada to provide Ontario food and beverage manufacturers the opportunity to promote their local products within the Ontario Pavilion. You can register by completing the RC Show 2021 application and submit it to theshow@restaurantscanada.org by February 14. Some perks of exhibiting with OMAFRA:

  • All-inclusive promotion package at a discount rate of $1,599
  • RC Member Fee will be waived under the OMAFRA group booking
  • 6 exhibitor staff registrations
  • Promotion on RC Show website (must submit .jpg logo by Feb 1)

Please complete the PDF application below if you’re interested in exhibiting within the Ontario Pavilion!

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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.

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TIPS FOR APPLYING to the RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (RED) PROGRAM.

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 Ontario.ca/REDprogram

2020 Ontario Regional Economic Development: A Year In Review

2020 has been an incredibly unique and unforgettable year, it’s also been a great year for the ON Regional Economic Development blog website. We’ve expanded our range of topics and have enjoyed watching our follow numbers grow. Below is a recap of our most popular blogs for 2020.

1. Top Ten Impacts COVID-19 Is Having on Local Economic Development and Ways That Economic Developers Can Help – April 23, 2020

Impacts of COVID-19 on local communities has left economic developers seeking guidance on how to best respond to the outbreak and offer effective support measures. This blog post discusses a ten-point action plan for how economic developer organizations can work through a three-phase recovery.

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The Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Is Now Accepting Applications

What is the RED Program?

Rural Economic Development (RED) is a cost-share funding program that supports projects that create strong rural communities in Ontario.

What are RED Outcomes?

RED applications are assessed on their ability to result in one or more of the following:

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Learn About How Your food Business Can Be Part of the PLMA Week Virtual Trade Show

The Private Label Manufacturers Association Trade Show will be in a virtual format where thousands of retail buyers from across the world will be searching for new business partners. The event happening February 1-5, 2021 will feature trade shows, enabling retailers and visitors to search for products and network with exhibitors using virtual communication tools. Participants will be able to exchange virtual business cards and other company information including social media accounts.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will be hosting the virtual Ontario Pavilion, which will assist and promote its Ontario exhibitors. The pavilion will provide opportunity for export-ready Ontario food and beverage processors to showcase their offerings to the United States and international private label buyers.

Join OMAFRA on December 15th for the Virtual PLMA Pre-Event Webinar.

The session will prepare exhibiting companies for the event and provide detailed answers to questions you may have. Topics covered include:

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