Community Collaboration

Regional Support Economic Development Pilot

Submitted ByBruce County

In a bid to overcome a common challenge faced by businesses and municipalities in Ontario – finding and keeping employees – the Regional Support Economic Development Pilot emerged as a beacon of innovation. Starting in September 2022, this program aimed to get local municipalities in Bruce County to work together more closely to achieve shared economic goals. It also helped new staff grow through mentorship. By teaming up and pooling resources over six months, the program showed how collaboration can lead to big successes.

At its core, the pilot worked closely with all municipalities, but provided targeted support towards Arran-Elderslie and Northern Bruce Peninsula through special agreements called Memorandums of Understanding (MOU). They received two days of dedicated support each week. The program’s success extended beyond project completion, reflecting in the overall positive impact and quality of the results. A noteworthy aspect was that the participating municipalities agreed to hire economic development resources after the program ended.

At conclusion of the pilot a mentorship initiative was launched to support new economic development staff in these municipalities. This mentorship not only built skills for the staff members but also created ongoing relationships, strengthening the economic development profession in these smaller areas.

For instance, in Arran-Elderslie, the pilot helped revamp the community improvement plan, conducted a comprehensive business survey, and set up design guidelines for local communities. This teamwork approach was also used to create a work plan for an existing economic development strategy. The handover to local teams was made smooth with helpful documents, leading to estimated savings of about $80,000 that would have been spent on external consulting.

Likewise, in Northern Bruce Peninsula, the joint effort led to an economic development strategic plan, revitalization strategies for downtown areas, and updates to a community-wide improvement plan. The program’s emphasis on cooperation was highlighted again, bringing about an estimated cost reduction of roughly $110,000.

Other municipalities across the county also received specific support on their core projects including investment attraction, event development and community improvement plans.

The benefits of the pilot continue to stretch beyond project completion by boosting the abilities of staff in the participating municipalities, allowing them to better support local priorities. This showcased how teamwork magnifies local skills and expertise. The program was a launching pad for collaborative projects, including business retention and expansion and tourism data collection.

The success of the pilot program was validated through discussions with municipal CAOs and relevant staff. These conversations provided strong evidence that collaboration had led to positive results. The accumulated savings of about $238,000 for local municipalities further supported success.

In closing, this program stands as proof that teamwork can achieve common goals. By promoting collaboration, fostering partnerships, and consistently delivering quality results, the program not only saved costs but also highlighted the strength of working together in economic development.

Attached to this application is:

  • Example MOU
  • The job description for the Regional Support Position
  • Council Report on the outcomes of the program