The 2020 BREI Conference took place during the week of June 15, 2020 and featured a variety of presenters from across North America. Academics and practitioners presented on emerging BR+E practices and guided discussions centered around the role of BR+E as an economic recovery tool. Below are 8 key takeaways from the conference:
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?
As Ontario transitions through the Framework for Reopening Our Province, downtowns and main street areas are required to operate in different ways than they have in the past. On June 1, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs facilitated an online Community of Practice event to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with the reopening of downtowns. Speakers Stephannie Schlichter, Director of Economic and Creative Development of the City of Barrie, Noella Rinaldo, Executive Director of the Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Area, and Kay Matthews, Executive Director of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), provided their input on some of the methods and techniques that their municipalities have introduced to support the reopening of downtowns.
A few key ways were identified as quick, high-impact tasks that municipalities can implement in downtowns to attract residents and boost their economic recovery:
In the past couple months, Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) has hosted a 2-part webinar series discussing emergency economic task forces. The series covered key economic challenges and successes from both rural and urban perspectives. Fellow EDCO members Craig Kelley – Director of Property and Development with the County of Renfrew, Rebecca Mustard – Manager of Economic Development with the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Martin Bohl – Sector Manager with the City of Brampton shared insights on their local efforts to support their community in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Structuring an emergency economic task force was discussed as a means to support local businesses and guide the community back toward a thriving economy.
Why are economic task forces beneficial?
Our previous blog post, The Importance of Collaboration to Support Economy Recovery, discussed how initiatives that are built on collaboration will be stronger and more resilient. The next two posts will delve into best practices to consider when structuring your recovery team so it can best support your local businesses.
Economic Recovery Management Committees or Economic Recovery Taskforces provide focus and lead the efforts throughout the recovery process. The team has several core functions and roles including:
The Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice held a webinar on April 15, 2020, to discuss issues in the agriculture and food sector due to COVID-19 and how to help communities during these difficult times.
One concern expressed is the lack of agriculture labourers. The agricultural community is worried that they will not get their full complement of temporary seasonal workers, and that would impact their ability to plant and harvest this season. The goal of the Community of Practice it to help find local and regional solutions to address these types of issues.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-product sectors.
On November 4th , the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) opened to receive applications from Ontario food processors and other agri-businesses. This intake is tailored to agri-food businesses looking to increase food safety, develop new markets and expand their operations with the goal of increasing competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability. Cost-share funding under the Partnership is merit-based, and project funding amounts are individually established based on project categories.
Applications can be submitted until November 26, 2019 at 5:00pm EDT.
Ontario’s agri-food sector is a power house in North America, and a key contributor to the province’s economy, supporting more than 837,000 jobs and contributing $47.7 billion towards the province’s GDP. To maintain Ontario’s leadership in the agri-food sector, the province has launched the Market Access Initiative – targeted cost-share funding available to help businesses and organizations across the Ontario supply value-chain that have been directly impacted by trade restrictions.
This initiative is only a small part of what the province is doing to help navigate trade challenges. Over the next two weeks, Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade are leading an Ontario trade mission to South Korea and Japan.