EDCO Member Updates

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Blog

Economic Benefits to Fostering Welcoming Communities

The creation of welcoming communities is an impactful, yet often underestimated factor when looking at the impact of the continually shifting landscape of economic development in Ontario. These communities, defined by their inclusivity, diversity and respect, provide the foundation for sustainable economic growth. In March 2010, the 17 Characteristics of a Welcoming Community report was released. Drawing on this report, the characteristics of welcoming communities include:

Inclusivity: Welcoming communities actively embrace individuals from all backgrounds, ensuring that no one is on the periphery. Every resident feels valued and respected, creating a sense of belonging.

Diversity Celebration: These communities recognize that their strength lies in their diversity. They celebrate a rich tapestry of backgrounds, cultures, ages and abilities as assets that enrich both social and economic life.

Accessibility: Prioritizing accessibility to essential services such as healthcare, education, transportation and housing is a hallmark of welcoming communities. This inclusivity fosters equitable opportunities for all residents.

Cultural Awareness: Welcoming communities commit to cultural awareness and understanding through educational programs and initiatives. These endeavours break down barriers, fostering mutual respect among residents from diverse backgrounds.

Inclusive Policies: These communities enact policies that prevent discrimination and promote diversity, aiming to create an equitable playing field for all. Such policies are the foundation for ensuring equal opportunities for immigrants and newcomers.

Community Engagement: Welcoming communities actively engage underrepresented groups in decision-making processes. This inclusivity ensures that policies and projects reflect the diverse needs and aspirations of all community members.

More than a decade after the original Characteristics of a Welcoming Community report was released, a toolkit for measuring and promoting welcoming communities was produced by Pathways to Prosperity. This toolkit focuses on what characteristics constitute a welcoming community and how we can go about measuring them and how we can promote communities that are more welcoming.

Immigration as a Catalyst of Welcoming Communities

Immigration plays a pivotal role in driving economic prosperity, especially in Ontario, Canada's most populous province and a major economic powerhouse. Recent immigration statistics from Canada underscore the profound economic benefits of welcoming newcomers:

·      According to data from Canada.ca, in 2021, Canada welcomed over 400,000 new permanent residents, marking one of the highest immigration levels in its history. This substantial influx of newcomers injects fresh talent and a wide array of perspectives into the country's labour force, significantly enhancing its economic potential.

·      Newcomers bring diverse skill sets, innovative ideas and a strong work ethic, contributing significantly to its economic prosperity.

·      Immigration directly affects Ontario's labour force. It helps address skill shortages, supports key industries, and ensures a steady supply of workers, a critical element for the province's ongoing economic growth.

·      The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants fosters the establishment of businesses, ranging from small startups to large enterprises. This entrepreneurial drive further economic prosperity in Ontario, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth across various sectors.

The infusion of diverse talents, skills, and entrepreneurial endeavours driven by immigration enriches Ontario's economic landscape. It not only boosts productivity and competitiveness but also fosters innovation and resilience, ensuring that Ontario remains at the forefront of economic prosperity in Canada and beyond.

The Economic Benefits of Welcoming Communities

The economic benefits of welcoming communities are substantial and tangible, especially when considering their role in Ontario's economic prosperity:

Talent Attraction: By embracing diversity and inclusivity, welcoming communities in Ontario attract a diverse pool of talent, making the province appealing to businesses seeking skilled workers.

Innovation Hubs: Ontario's welcoming communities often become hubs of innovation, fostering creativity and entrepreneurial spirit by drawing on the unique perspectives of residents from diverse backgrounds

Economic Growth: Immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners in Ontario contribute significantly to local economies, creating jobs and stimulating growth.

Tourism and Cultural Exchange: Cultural events and experiences in these communities draw tourists, boosting local economies and forging international connections, which benefits Ontario's tourism industry.

Social Capital and Trust: Strong social bonds and trust within welcoming communities in Ontario lead to collaborative initiatives that enhance economic resilience and prosperity.

Welcoming communities are not just a social aspiration; they are a strategic advantage in the realm of economic development. As we envision the future of economic development in Ontario, lets us recognize that building welcoming communities is an investment in a prosperous, innovative and harmonious province where every resident, regardless of their background, can thrive and contribute to the greater good. As always, educating yourself is the most transformative way to understand your impact and contribute to the continued prosperity of welcoming communities and creating a sense of belonging within your community and workplace.


EDCO Member Updates



FEBRUARY 6-8, 2024


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More Information and Registration

As we near the end of the year, remember to visit your member profile and make sure it has up to date information.

More Information from IEDC

Environics Analytics and EDCO have partnered again to bring a special offer to our members. Do you endeavour to make strategic decisions that are data driven but lack the budget needed to access the data?


Get to know your communities in more detail using the Spotlight platform from Environics Analytics. Granular, detailed data about your local populations can be brought to life with simple-to-read, updated dashboards, and powerful insights that give you so much more clarity about your jurisdictions. Webinars and showcases were held throughout the fall.

This offer’s objective is an attempt to make data accessible to Ontario’s smaller municipalities about their populations and their expenditure and lifestyle attributes. The aim is to arm Ontario’s smaller municipalities with access to this data to:

  • Help inform strategic plans and Master Plans
  • Provide insights into local populations to help with communications, engagement and service delivery
  • Develop a deeper sense of understanding of local populations to help decision-makers better anticipate jurisdictional needs and provide services and programs that are more relevant and valuable

This special offer democratizes data and makes this platform available for up to 90% off the regular price.

More details and information on Spotlight Platform here

Email us at laura.demille@edco.on.ca if interested.

EDCO Insider allows individual communities to easily and cost-effectively create their own customized apps and build incentives for people to visit places of interest or make purchases locally.

Take advantage of this service powered by 468 Communications, and drive economic development by rewarding people for exploring your community!

Learn More

My Main Street

The Cornerstone Pilates finds new form with help from My Main Street

When Jocelyne Pelchat was approached by Jessica Kohek, the My Main Street Ambassador with the Local Business Accelerator Program in Burlington, she learned that through the My Main Street program, she could receive $10,000 in funding. This funding would be essential in supporting The Cornerstone Pilates with buying back exercise equipment, such as a Pilates Reformer, that the company originally had to sell during the pandemic.

The My Main Street program, which aims to revitalize business communities through hands-on support, is funded with a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO).

Read More Here

Member Requests

Ontario Government is pleased to announce the launch of the Experience Ontario 2024 program. Ontario is investing $19.5 million to provide funding to eligible in person festivals and events taking place between April 1, 2024, and March 31, 2025.

Festival and event organizers continue to develop and deliver exciting programming in communities across the province. Your many efforts attract visitors to explore all that Ontario has to offer, boosting local and regional economies while celebrating the diverse identities and cultures that make our province a special place to live, work and play.

For information on the program, please see the Experience Ontario Application Guide.

Information about how to apply is available at Ontario.ca and https://youtu.be/Ffub-cWFlrY.

Regional Advisors are available to assist with questions about the application process.

The application period is now open – applications will be accepted until January 11, 2024, at 5 p.m. (EST).

Note: Experience Ontario is a highly competitive program. Applications will be measured against program criteria and there is no guarantee of funding. 

More Information


Ontario Strengthens Relationship with United States with New Representative

QUEEN’S PARK — The Government of Ontario has announced the appointment of David Paterson as the province’s Representative in Washington, D.C.

As Ontario’s Representative in Washington, Mr. Paterson will be the province’s lead liaison, playing a vital role in promoting investment in key Ontario sectors, further expanding Ontario’s trade with the United States, strengthening government-to-government and business-to-business relations, and providing strategic advice to the Government of Ontario.

Read more here..

Ontario Welcomes $35 Million Manufacturing Investment in Windsor

WINDSOR — The Ontario government is welcoming a $35 million investment by Bobaek America Inc., a Korean electric vehicle (EV) parts manufacturer, to build a new manufacturing facility in Windsor, specializing in battery insulation panels and cell sheets for EVs. Bobaek’s investment marks the company’s first entry into the North American EV supply chain and will create 144 new jobs in the region.

“Our government continues to build up Ontario’s auto and manufacturing sectors by creating the right conditions to attract multi-national companies,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “With support from the province’s Regional Development Program, Bobaek’s investment will serve as a critical link in building our end-to-end EV and battery supply chain, affirming Ontario’s position as a leader in building the cars of the future. Thank you, Bobaek for choosing Ontario as your launchpad into the North American market.”

Read more here.

Check out the EDCO Career Page


December 1-31, 2023 -Inclusion: Overcoming the Digital Divide

January 17 - 19, 2024 - Economic Development Credit Analysis

January 21-23, 2024 - ROMA 2024 Conference

February 4 - 6, 2024 - IEDC 2024 Leadership Summit

February 6, 2024 - EDCO Pre-conference session: Beginners guide to effective funding proposals

February 6 - 8, 2024 - EDCO Annual Conference and Showcase

February 13 - 14, 2024 - Introduction to Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development

February 27 - 28, 2024 - Accelerating Growth Through Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development

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