Tag Archives: Economic Development

Business Retention and Expansion Training Program

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) Business Retention and Expansion program (BR+E) is a structured approach to economic development that helps communities to cultivate an environment for local businesses to grow and thrive. Since the program’s launch in 1998, over 10,000 businesses have participated in more than 300 BR+E projects across Ontario. Over the past two years, a broad range of communities such as the Town of Hanover, Dufferin County, Huron County and Whitewater Region have worked with OMAFRA staff to undertake BR+E projects to identify strategies for post-pandemic business growth.

Attend a free, three-part online BR+E training series in June if you are:

  • An economic development professional who will be undertaking a BR+E project,
  • An elected official or municipal staff who would like to learn more about the BR+E program,
  • An individual who is interested in managing or coordinating a community BR+E project.

All four stages of BR+E will be covered during the OMAFRA BR+E training sessions listed below:

Session 1Tuesday, June 14th
10:30 am – 12 noon
Optional SessionFriday, June 17th
10:30 am – 12 noon
Session 2Tuesday, June 21st
10:30 am – 12 noon
Session 3Tuesday, June 28th
10:30 am – 12 noon

Click here to register for the sessions. More information about the OMAFRA BR+E program can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/business-retention-and-expansion-program

Growing the Agriculture and Food Innovation Ecosystem

Join the Agriculture and Economic Development Community of Practice on May 11 from 10 am – 11:30 am to hear about Ontario’s growing agriculture and food innovation ecosystem including presentations about several provincial and regional innovation initiatives including:

Economic development officers, planners and those involved in community economic development should join in and share how the agriculture and food innovation ecosystems can help your agriculture and food industry.

Ontario’s agriculture and food industries strive to meet an ever-increasing global demand for agricultural products. Ontario agriculture and food innovation projects are evolving and expanding to help people make new business ideas become reality.

Register for this Zoom meeting at: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArcOigrjgpGNCn-GbheDGA6MmmYql6LR9f After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) have coordinated the Agriculture and Economic Development Community of Practice – a free, online network to bring together economic development and planning professionals across Ontario interested in agricultural issues. The quarterly meeting topics will be based on relevant municipal policies, procedures and programming impacting the agricultural sector.

Teeny Tiny Summit – Rural Resurgence Webinar Recap – From December 1, 2021

The second Teeny Tiny Summit webinar series centered around the question that has arisen during COVID-19 – will rural communities take shelter from the pandemic storm or dance in the economic rain? To view the slide presentations & recording, visit the Teeny Tiny Summit website.

Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit – Rural Resurgence Webinar Recap – From December 1, 2021

Register for the Canadian Women’s Agri-Food Virtual Trade Mission to Mexico Tuesday, March 22nd -24th 2022

The Organization of Women in International Trade-Toronto (OWIT)* in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is hosting a virtual trade mission to Mexico.

The mission is focused on increasing exports of Canadian women-owned and women-led businesses in the agri-food sector to enter or expand into the Mexican market.

The mission will allow participants to better understand and tap into Mexico’s business opportunities by taking part in information webinar sessions, and pre-arranged virtual business-to-business meetings.

Mexico is one of the largest importers of agri-food products in the world. A country with a population of more than 130 million people imports approximately 40% of what is consumed. In 2020, it imported US$28 billion in agriculture and Agri-food products. Mexico is Canada’s third most important trading partner and a strategic trade partner in two key trade agreements, CUSMA and CPTPP.

With the geographical advantage and the Free Trade Agreements that have eliminated duties on almost all agri-food products, Mexico is a natural market for Canadian exporters.

Participants will get:
  • Pre-arranged virtual B2B meetings with qualified buyers
  • Digital Catalogue with company listing in Spanish
  • Assistance by OMAFRA, GAC and OWIT
Program details and dates:

February (dates TBC)

  • Pre-event market information webinar sessions by experts and Trade Commissioner Service-Canada

March 22

  • Prospective from Mexican industry leaders and buyers’ Pre-arranged virtual business-to-business meetings with qualified buyers or partners
  • Virtual business-to-business meetings

March 23

  • Virtual business-to-business meetings

March 24

  • Virtual business-to-business meetings
  • Debriefing with participants
Participation fee:
  • OWIT Members – $150
  • Non-Members – $250

Spaces are Limited! Deadline to register is January 15th, 2022!

Register Now: owit-toronto.ca

For questions and inquiries please contact Fabiola Sicard, Export Marketing Officer, OMAFRA at Fabiola.sicard@ontario.ca or by telephone (647) 205-7133.

*OWIT promotes trade diversification and the participation of women in international trade which contributes to Canada’s economic growth.

Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Opens on August 30th

The Rural Economic Development (RED) program is open from August 30, 2021 to October 1, 2021. You can find all program information including how to apply on the program’s homepage on August 30, 2021.

Information Sessions

OMAFRA staff will be conducting two public webinars to provide an overview of the RED program, and discuss the process for applying to the program. Please bring your questions as there will be a Q&A period. The sessions will be on the following dates:

  • September 2, 11:00am-12:00pm EST
  • September 16, 1:00pm-2:00pm EST

Sign up on the session registration page

Ontario’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program provides cost-share funding to support activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and open doors to rural economic development.

What are RED Outcomes?

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

Continue reading Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Opens on August 30th

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.


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)

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:

Continue reading Findings From the 2020 OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Surveys

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.

Continue reading 2020 Ontario Regional Economic Development: A Year In Review

Recap – Municipal Agriculture, Economic Development & Planning Forum

The 12th annual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development & Planning Forum took place on November 18-19, 2020. The forum showcased exciting agricultural and rural projects happening in Huron County and throughout Ontario. Ways to engage and grow agriculture along the value chain, and opportunities for planning and economic development were highlighted to the more than 230 people in attendance.

Energetic discussions explored topics such as export as a growth strategy, direct selling in a COVID world, inspiring innovation within a municipality and more!

The forum focused on working together to grow a better future for the Agri-Food sector. Whether you want to:

  • Promote local food
  • Brand your region
  • Support export initiatives
  • Drive innovation in your region

Listed below are several tools and resources to support your work. Visit these links for more information:

Continue reading Recap – Municipal Agriculture, Economic Development & Planning Forum