Dufferin County workshops kick off economic development planning process

People in Dufferin County will be able to attend a workshop to learn about new concepts and strategies of economic development and the importance of an economic ecosystem.

At the Oct. 26 community development and tourism committee meeting, the manager of economic development Yaw Ennin presented an outline of the economic development strategic planning process which includes five phases.

The economic development team is putting together a workshop on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 to kick-start this learning process and it's the first phase in creating an economic development strategic plan.

“The plan is that at the workshops we'll be able to come up with a framework to educate the community on economic developments, and also assist the local municipalities in developing their own economic development strategies and action plans,” Ennin said.

University of Waterloo economic development and adjunct professor Brock Dickinson will be joined by Paul Knafelc and Erik Lockhart to lead the workshop. They will focus on what constitutes an economic ecosystem, look at the practical viewpoint and use data to outline the current economic ecosystem of Dufferin County.

Ennin says the second phase will be working with local stakeholders and community groups to understand what challenges people are experiencing. It will take place from March to July 2024.

“The third phase of this process, which we anticipate being sometime in the fall of 2024, will be identifying actionable items,” Ennin said. “At this stage, I anticipate that local municipalities will take ownership of the process and develop their own action plans.”

This will lead to the next phase of having the plans be approved. Committees and council will have the opportunity to review these plans and see if they are authentic to local communities.

Ennin said that the fifth and final stage will be in collaboration with local CAOs and people that function in an economic development capacity to produce annual reports.

“The purpose of this is to really lay out why we're having this workshop on Nov. 8 and 9th, it is really part of the broader efforts to build a strategy and then follow that up with a comprehensive list of action plans that will be authentic to the community and push forward economic development efforts,” Ennin said.

Chief Administrative Officer, Sonya Pritchard, said another purpose of this process is to establish who does what in terms of economic development.

“There's a lot of economic development being done in Orangeville, Shelburne has a number of activities going on and some municipalities want more activity than others,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard said this process is to identify what is happening, where committees and council should be focusing their energy so that they can collectively move thing forward.

The workshop will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Orangeville's W & M Edelbrock Centre, 30 Centre St. in the lower level.

Rebecca Weston, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner