Whitewater council hears update on Business Retention project
Whitewater Region – Companies in the Whitewater Region are invited to participate in the community’s new Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) project, which officially launched on December 16, 2021.
Scott Hamilton, the community’s business outreach officer, presented an update to the Whitewater Council at its December 15th meeting.
Mr Hamilton told the city council that February 1, 2022 has been set as the start date for surveys to be made available to all businesses in the Whitewater area.
“The BR&E project involves a systemic survey process of companies from all sectors of the Whitewater region,” said Hamilton. “I will conduct this interview process with the support of (township) employees, the project management team and volunteers from the community. A survey will focus on identifying companies looking to expand and areas where the community can help those companies. ”
The role of the Business Outreach Officer is a contractual position. The Business Retention & Expansion project is a structured, action-oriented and community-based approach to corporate and economic development. It was created by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and helps communities prioritize their efforts to support existing and new businesses. OMAFRA lists many different benefits of running an economic development project like the BR&E.
“In a rural community economy, 76 to 90 percent of all new jobs come from existing businesses,” said Hamilton. “It (the project) supports company growth and promotes communication between companies and the council. It can lead to the creation of a direct business networking group and enable companies to participate in the wider community. ”
The survey will be completed in April 2022. An action plan will be presented to the Council in June 2022. According to OMAFRA analyst data, there are currently 402 companies in the Whitewater region. These include the self-employed, agricultural farmers and traditional businesses. This number is compared with the total of 428 companies recorded in June 2019. This shows that a total of 26 companies closed between 2019 and 2021. According to the data, Whitewater lost 136 jobs from 2019 to 2021, which is 6 percent of total community jobs.
Business statistics over the past decade show that from 2011 to 2021, 100 companies closed in Whitewater and 350 jobs were lost over the same period.
Several business leaders in the community have agreed to form a leadership team to advise and support the BR&E project. Team members include Dave McGonegal of Renfrew County Beef Farmers of Ontario; Bev Buchanan, Buchanan Sand and Gravel; Cindy Jamieson, Jamieson Travel & Whitewater Inn; Jeff Black, Greenhouse Botany; Chris Thompson, Whitewater Brewery, and Bill McGill, Summerhill Resorts.
The project supports the strategies of the municipality’s strategic plan 2020-2030 and the municipality development work plan 2021 in terms of promoting economic development by encouraging the redevelopment and improvement of business and trade corridors across the municipality; Assisting the retention and expansion of existing businesses and attracting new economic developments; Supporting growth and development and promoting economic development and tourism.
Starting in 2022, companies in Whitewater will be contacted to complete a detailed survey. Volunteers are needed to help with the survey. The survey results will feed into an action plan to guide the direction of the Council in the future.
For more details or to participate in the project, please visit www.whitewaterregion.ca or contact Scott Hamilton 613-646-2282 ext. 143 [email protected]