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.
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)
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
- 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
The second virtual Teeny Tiny Summit that took place on September 23rd, 2020 discussed how communities have been able to promote engagement and activity in alternative formats throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Speakers shared insight on engagement initiatives that their teams have coordinated to provide support to the community and other organizations.
Below are key items and initiatives from each of the speakers and organizations mentioned:
Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit – Creatively Bringing Communities Together Recap
Join us for the next Teeny Tiny Summit taking place on Wednesday, September 23rd from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm to hear about creative ways communities have been brought together. For registration and event details, visit the Teeny Tiny Summit page.
Why should I attend Teeny Tiny Summit?
- Become inspired – learn of relevant examples from a community like yours
- A breath of fresh air –refresh with new perspective and insight from other small communities
- Discover – learn about pursuing economic development goals in your community
Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit – Creatively Bringing Community Together
The Teeny Tiny Summits began in 2016 as a forum to discuss scale-appropriate economic development techniques in Ontario’s smallest communities. Since then,1300 people have attended 11 summits. Feedback from participants tells us that they always come away inspired and engaged, with ideas that they can put into practice right away in their communities. This year, a virtual format was adopted for the first time. But just like previous offerings, participants benefited from the wisdom of their peers and were every bit as inspired as they have been in the past. Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit Goes Virtual!
In 2020, Teeny Tiny Summits will be moving to a virtual format featuring a series of three webinars. The virtual Teeny Tiny webinars will shine a light on creative ideas and people in small communities that have made the most of the past few months. The webinar series will be sharing ideas and actions from community leaders in small communities of all kinds for informative and inspiring sessions.
Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit Goes Virtual! Big Ideas for Small Places: A celebration and Exploration of Small-Town Possibilities
Just as the activities of business and government are shifting to meet the demands of the current context, the BR+E process should also adapt to meet today’s economic development needs. To tackle the implications of this outbreak, communities and organizations will benefit from having access to and sharing timely, reliable, and meaningful data. This data can allow stakeholders and the business community to share critical information that can help address individual, regional and sector-based issues.
This post will review four keys ways in which your BR+E practices could pivot to address today’s economy.
Continue reading Adapting your Business Retention + Expansion Practices During a Crisis
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:
Continue reading Stories That Demonstrate Rural Renaissance
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
BR+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?
Continue reading Road to Economic Recovery Using BR+E for Rural Communities