The Town of Grimsby in collaboration with the Toronto Metropolitan University Local Economic Development Certificate Program course on CPLE 795 – LED Fundamentals, was instrumental in the coordination, research, and production of the final report. As part of the student’s experiential education components, they were responsible for reviewing the Situational Analysis of the Town and undertaking a SWOT brainstorming session with community stakeholders. The students were guided by Professor Frank Miele and Harry Schlange was the CAO who requested to complete the Action Plan.
The Town of Grimsby, like many towns in Canada, suffered through COVID and decided that a 3-year Action Plan would be a foundation and transitional plan to move the community forward post-COVID. While the Town did have an Economic Development Strategy that was dated a decade ago, it was never implemented or updated, the Town initiated the Action Plan that was fully created in-house at a minimal cost ($5,600 for graphics). Grimsby believed that an in-house Action Plan would strengthen the community and its stakeholders by using the information collected through the BR+E report (Nov. 2021), and several focus groups (Jan. 2022 through Zoom) to complete a robust analysis with the input of over 75 local businesses.
Approximately 15 meetings were held with the Action Plan Working Group and while the Plan was finalized for Council presentation, the students be part of the presentation as well. This collaborative effort created two documents. The large document provides an in-depth report of the Action Plan which was presented to Council in May 2022, and at that time Council and the CAO requested that a Summary Report of the Economic Strategic Action Plan be published online and printed (500 copies). The printed version was completed in October of 2022.
The Action Plan was unanimously approved by Council and requested funding be put in place to begin the implementation process. The uniqueness of the Action Plan is its simplicity to understand and follow the Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps (Actions, person/organization responsible, timing, cost, and KPIs). At any time, Council and the community, and stakeholders could follow the progress and measure the results of every goal, objective, and action. For example, the Goal is to Support Business Retention and Expansion. One of the objectives is to Undertake a Corporate Calling Program between May-December and visit 4 businesses per month to create a relationship, understand their challenges, and provide a municipal contact if they wanted to expand or had any issues with their business that we could help or direct them to the right level of government. This particular goal was well received by the Mayor, CAO, and the Chair of the Grimsby Economic Development Advisory Committee because they participated in the corporate visits and learned much about the business and its issues. The Mayor was at all the corporate visits and became a fan of Economic Development.
Considering that the Town did not have an Action Plan, did not have an EDO, and did not have a budget for economic development, it quickly transformed from economic development obscurity to a highly organic and focused Action Plan with an EDO and supporting Corporate Leadership Team.
It took 6 months to complete the in-house Action Plan with a $5,600 budget. The Town is now in the second year of implementing the Action Plan and is also in the process of updating it in the fall/winter of 2023 to reflect the New Council’s 3 Strategic Priorities (2023-2026) – “Collective Prosperity by driving innovation and collaboration in our economy to benefit everyone”.