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
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 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.
Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program, this entry will take a look at the potential benefits and impacts of a revitalization program.
Downtown Revitalization (DR) can be costly and time-consuming, with positive impacts emerging only over the longer-term. As the figure from the DR Coordinator’s Manual shows, economic impacts are not expected until the medium-term in a downtown revitalization program, with new market trends (e.g. e-commerce) necessitating a long-term commitment to ensure sustainability. Though time frames remain a key challenge, downtown revitalization programs also contend with the perception that their benefits are “local” to the downtown area, rather than the broader community. Continue reading Understanding the Benefits of a Downtown Revitalization Program
Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) Downtown Revitalization Program (DR), this entry will take a look at the estimated costs a community could expect to incur, and strategies to manage the cost of the initiative.
Like all economic development activities, downtown revitalization is a long-term and ongoing process. OMAFRA’s DR program is a comprehensive four-stage process aimed at moving from foundational strategic directions and actions to tangible results in a two to three year timeframe. The first year is largely focused on the development of a strategic plan and actions for downtown revitalization. An additional one to two years is a realistic expectation for the community to see initial outcomes, monitor progress, and start making strategic adjustments as needed. This process is expected to generate two types of costs: Continue reading Budgeting for Downtown Revitalization?
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Downtown Revitalization Program takes a comprehensive four-stage approach to support the efforts of rural communities who want to revitalize their historic downtowns. As part of the program, OMAFRA provides the Downtown Revitalization Coordinator’s Manual, which is designed to support communities that have identified downtown revitalization as an economic development priority. As with many of OMAFRA’s other program resources, the Downtown Revitalization Coordinator’s Manual is now available online, at no cost, just fill out the form on the OMAFRA website. Continue reading Refresher for Downtown Revitalization
Place seems to matter more than ever, and Main Street areas across the United States are finding ways to re-assert their economic importance despite emerging ‘disruptive’ advancements in retail (e.g. e-commerce). That was the underlying theme in many of the sessions I attended at the recent 2017 Main Street Now conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Attended by more than 1,600 people, the annual conference brings together key private and public sector decision makers to share successes and challenges in preservation-based downtown revitalization.
After a few weeks to collect my thoughts, here are the ideas that continue to resonate with me on ways to improve downtown districts: Continue reading Thoughts from the Main Street Now Conference
As the downtown revitalization community of practice sessions have come to an end, we thought it would be a perfect time to reflect on the key learnings and benefits that these sessions provide to our clients. Community of Practice sessions are generally held as a knowledge transfer opportunity; these sessions aim to provide feedback, support, and guidance to those who wish to partake in a downtown revitalization initiative.
Continue reading Key Takeaways: Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program is a comprehensive program that supports the economic development efforts of rural communities across Ontario. An initial step in this program is the intensive downtown revitalization coordinator training provided by OMAFRA staff. This training is focused on identifying the processes and tools required to successfully undertake a downtown revitalization project.
Continue reading Want to learn about downtown revitalization?
For the second year in a row, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has partnered with the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) to organize and deliver three Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice sessions. These sessions are being hosted in communities that are at various stages in their downtown revitalization program. The sessions are designed to provide a balance of perspectives about the challenges and opportunities associated with launching a Downtown Revitalization initiative, developing strategies to respond to changing markets, and maintaining support over the longer term.
These one-day sessions showcase the community, and the individuals or organizations involved in the revitalization of the downtown. This includes presentations by the host community and partner organizations, facilitated discussions on downtown revitalization best practices, and networking opportunities. Community of Practice sessions are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
More information and registration details can be found on the OBIAA website. OMAFRA facilitates and coordinates resources and tools to build the capacity of rural Ontario communities for economic development. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization program, visit our website or contact the Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor in your area.