Examples of projects in Economic Development
Municipal Economic Development Strategies
- South Stormont
Each place faces different strategic issues, so no two plans are the same. Here is a short description of these projects, in all cases performed by David Sherwood.
Alexandria. Using a multi-stakeholder process, the goal was to boost the activity level and economic vitality of downtown Alexandria with the active involvement of the Municipality and the Chamber of Commerce. Public information and participation was via web site, meetings and newspaper press releases. Stakeholder meetings were held. Among the recommendations implemented were beautification efforts and having the farmers' market downtown.
Clarence-Rockland. David was one of a team of consultants working with a mixed private-public sector committee to develop an economic development strategy. The team provided background information, analysis and recommendations. We held public consultations as part of the process.
Maxville. The client was the Chamber of Commerce. Working closely with an active committee of the Chamber, we performed a SWOT analysis and an environmental scan. A short list of potential priority issues was taken to well attended public meetings that I facilitated.
South Stormont. This municipality would be the envy of many. It fronts on the St. Lawrence River, has industrial parks, fibre optic, railway service and 401 access. However, it is a truism that "you can't chase smokestacks", meaning that once these assets are made visible, such as on the excellent municipal web site and a few major trade shows, there is little else the municipality can do, because major employers make location decisions based on their own research. So, we strategized about how to build on these assets with "softer" services, such as small business training, maintaining good communications with key stakeholders, following up quickly on leads, and solving problems or roadblocks to local business development that are under municipal jurisdiction.
Free Government of Ontario Resources. OMAFRA, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, makes available "action kits" and guidelines that we highly recommend. Examples are: BR+E (Business Retention and Expansion), ‘first impressions’, or downtown revitalization. Their regional field staff are also available to provide advice and we usually cooperate with them during our project and suggest our clients maintain that contact while implementing our report.
Ste-Anne-de-Prescott. We understand what it's like to sit on the other side of the table. Both members of our firm sit as volunteers on the local economic development committee we co-founded, and we act as project officers who hire consultants to do special projects. See the description below.
(Note: to respect confidentiality, some details are omitted.)
Review and provide Coaching on Business Plans. We headed a team that was hired to review the business plans of several start-up businesses. In each case, we were able to very quickly identify the weak link(s) in their business case and then coach them on how to make improvements.
Tourist Business. For this private sector client, we facilitated management meetings on new tourist development strategies.
Cooperative of Local/Organic Food Producers. A group of local fresh produce growers wanted to explore forming a cooperative emphasizing ‘local food’ and ‘organics’. We led the consulting team which recommended they enter the commercial (restaurant) sector and supply imported product in winter, instead of their original idea of relying only on direct-to-consumer sales and seasonal produce.
Marketing of “Natural” Beef. We were on a team which prepared an analysis of marketing ‘natural’ beef under a local ‘branding’. Our team demonstrated that it would be profitable, but only if a number of producers worked together (co-op or shared capital incorporation) to assume the risk of retaining ownership of the meat from their farm gate to the butcher shop, thus reducing the markup normally paid to middle-men.
Explore New Territory for Media Outlet. Our firm provided research and strategic advice to a media corporation that was considering entering a new geographic market area.
Value-Added Business Training. David Sherwood is the designated bilingual trainer for all of Ontario, to deliver the Quest for New Farm Value-value Plus workshops for OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs). This training helps rural businesses add value to their existing operations to capture market share. For more information: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/conference/buswkshpmktg.htm
Ste-Anne-de-Prescott. Since 2002, we have been fortunate to share our enthusiasm and professional skill sets in our home community, as volunteers. As co-founders of the local economic development committee, we acted as project officers supervising other consultants who performed (1) a community-based strategic planning exercise; (2) an agriculture diversification study; (3) a bio-digester study; and (4) a biodiesel study. On behalf of our committee, David brokered the deals that brought high speed internet to the area and to re-open the general store when it closed. This experience has been published in Municipal World and by the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. We manage the community web site where all this is described in detail : www.ste-anne.ca