February 2021
Your monthly news & updates
2021 Chair of Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus: Warden George Cornell
Warden George Cornell of the County of Simcoe has been acclaimed as Chair of the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (WOWC), during the organization’s Annual General Meeting held virtually on February 5, 2021.

Also appointed at the AGM as WOWC officers were Darren White, Warden of Dufferin County to the office of Vice Chair; Sonya Pritchard, CAO of Dufferin County as Treasurer; and Mark Aitken, CAO of Simcoe County as Secretary.

In addition, Mayor George Bridge, Minto Township, was re-appointed as Chair of the WOWC Economic Development Sub-Committee; with committee membership to include the following Wardens and Mayors: Darren White, Kevin Marriott, Walter McKenzie, Jim Ginn, George Cornell, and Gary McNamara, supported by WOWC member CAOs and Economic Development staff.

The AGM was followed by a separate meeting with many MPs and MPPs from across Western Ontario, in addition to several Ministers, both to discuss SWIFT and the need for federal and provincial funding to ensure its success. Ministers present included Laurie Scott, Ernie Hardeman, Sylvia Jones, Caroline Mulroney, Lisa Thompson, and Bill Walker. 

Broadband Access Expands Further in the Region

SWIFT Expanding Broadband Access in Chatham-Kent
  • Chatham-Kent to receive $19.3 million in broadband upgrades to bring high-speed services to more than 4,584 households and businesses.
  • Awarded projects include expanding high-speed fibre-optic broadband services in Delaware Nation – Moravian of the Thames community.

SWIFT Broadband Expansion Plans Now Underway in Dufferin County
  • SWIFT, in partnership with the federal and provincial governments and private sector investors, recently announced a combined investment of $10.4 million to deliver high-speed internet to more than 1,663 underserved homes and businesses throughout Dufferin County.
  • Construction has now begun on the first project to bring better broadband services to more than 300 homes and businesses in the community of Mansfield. The $829,000 joint venture between SWIFT and Bell Canada is expected to be completed, with services fully available by early 2022.

SWIFT Project Connecting More Residents in Norfolk County
  • Rogers Communications, in partnership with SWIFT, is constructing a fibre-optic network to bring high-speed internet access to more than 2,116 homes and businesses throughout the communities of Wilsonville, Boston, Bealton, Dundurn, Waterford, Townsend Centre, Villa Nova and Bloomsburg.
  • Construction of the $7.6 million joint venture is expected to be completed with service fully available by August 2021. As the buildout of the 86-kilometre fibre-to-the-home network continues to progress, customers in the remaining underserved project area will be brought online in a phased approach.

2020 Economic Developers Council of Ontario Awards of Excellence
Congratulations to all of the 2020 EDCO Award winners. Of special note are those award recipients from the WOWC region;

  • Investment Attraction Award – Rural: DMZ Innisfil submitted by Town of Innisfil

  • Tourist Attraction & Tourism Product Development Award – Rural: Middlesex County 2020 Culinary Guide submitted by Middlesex County

  • Community Influencer of the Year Award: Mayor David Bailey, Brant County

  • Bright Ideas Competition Awards: Team Performance Management; Brandon Webb, Brant County

Coming Together to Help the Business Community
Oxford County Council approved funding for the Oxford Economic Stimulus Fund, a program designed to help local small and medium-sized businesses, not-for-profit groups, and business support organizations recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Administered by Community Futures Oxford in collaboration with Oxford Connection, the Oxford Economic Stimulus Fund will provide local businesses with flexible loans to restart businesses closed during the pandemic, revitalize downtown cores, support tourism and hospitality operators and more.

Non-profit and community organizations are eligible for grants to support economic development, for instance, by creating and maintaining jobs, or complementing other funding sources to make local projects viable.

A total of $1.5 million will be distributed through the fund, $1 million from Oxford County and $0.5 million from Community Futures Oxford. Up to 10% of the original principal of the loan made to businesses may be forgiven if repayment is made within two years.

New Takeout Food Map for Wellington County
A new online map allows Wellington County residents to search for restaurants and food businesses offering ready-to-eat takeout food. Users can further narrow down their search by mealtime and the type of food they are looking for.

Explore the Takeout Food in Wellington County Map and participate in the #takeoutwellington contest to win one of seven 50 dollar gift cards to local restaurants. 

Small Towns Big Opportunities:
Renewed Interest in Rural and Northern Ontario
An ambitious pro-jobs, pro-growth set of ideas can reverse the economic and social decline experienced by too many of Ontario’s smaller and northern communities according to StrategyCorp and the Ontario Real Estate Association’s (OREA) new policy report, Small Towns, Big Opportunities: Unlocking Growth in Ontario’s Rural and Northern Communities. A growing desire for homes with more space and outdoor amenities and greater opportunities to Work from Home – both side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – provide a golden opportunity for a small town comeback.

OREA’s new policy report identifies 15 recommendations that address long term solutions to housing, education, job creation and access infrastructure in rural and Northern Ontario.

2021 Canada Real Estate Market Outlook Report
With the COVID crisis expected to end in 2021, it remains to be seen which commercial property types are permanently changed and which will return to "old normal" conditions. 
Beyond COVID, mega trends stemming from the digital economy and demographics will shape the future of commercial real estate.
Get the data you need on office, industrial, retail, multifamily, land, hotel and data centres in 14 Canadian cities, including, Windsor, London and Waterloo region.

Impact of Covid-19 on Rural Employment up to Jan 2021
This release presents data collected by Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey during the week of January 10 to the 16 2021. As the data show, the second wave was hitting some sectors with a vengeance.

In January, 2021, the COVID-19 impact on rural employment in Ontario is estimated be -2.7% which was a wider job gap than the -1.7% gap reported in December, 2020.

Ontario’s rural employment gap of -2.7% ranks third behind Alberta’s rural employment gap of -10.8%, Manitoba’s rural employment gap of -5.3% and Quebec’s rural employment gap of -3.8%.

Ontario’s job gap of -2.7% represents a gap of -16 thousand workers.

Applications Open for New Skills Development Fund
Applications are now open for the Ontario government's new two-year $115 million Skills Development Fund. The fund, which will support workers and apprentices, is specifically designed to address the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and help reduce obstacles to hiring, training and retaining while preparing workers for the province's economic recovery.

The Skills Development Fund will accept applications from a wide range of employment and training organizations in Ontario.

Examples of projects from the fund could include: a digital career fair that allows employers to connect with job seekers impacted by COVID-19, mentorship programs and career counselling for apprentices.

FedDev Ontario investments enhance growth
With world-class post-secondary institutions and urban technology firms, the manufacturing and industrial corridor along the 401 and a strong agricultural centre, southwestern Ontario is a diverse region, home to a variety of industries that support Canada’s economy.

Composed of a multitude of smaller rural economies, southwestern Ontario supports the region’s ability to innovate across many different sectors. The repayable contributions announced will support Algonquin BridgeBold Canine Inc.Five Star Tool and Die Limited.Kinectrics Enterprises Inc.Larsen & Shaw Limited, and OWS Rail Car Inc. in scaling up manufacturing, locomotive services, steel bridge production, and pet food capabilities across the region.

WOCFDCA: Executive Director Position
Western Ontario Community Futures Development Corporation Association (WOCFDCA) in Brantford, Ontario is searching for a dynamic Executive Director. The Executive Director will report to the Board of Directors and will lead staff to ensure the effective implementation and operation of the programs of the Corporation. This includes the responsibility of managing the business affairs, building productive community relationships, and maintaining collaborative relationships with various levels of government and other stakeholders. The WOCFDCA is looking for a visionary with proven success leading a diverse team.