Guelph launches Grow Guelph business retention and expansion program

The City of Guelph and its partner organizations have identified the need for a formal Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program in the Guelph business community. The Grow Guelph BR+E program is a community-wide effort to investigate opportunities that improve the profitability of local businesses, acknowledge their inherent value to the community, develop relevant business resources and programs and further the economic development of the region.
The Prosperity 2020 Strategic Directions Report informed that Guelph could enhance efforts to retain and support local business. It was decided that a Guelph BR+E program would be launched, commencing with an outreach business visitation initiative beginning in November 2013. There will be approximately 100 business visitations and surveys completed by the end of May 2014 and data from this will be analysed to highlight common systemic issues, improve or design program resources, and economic development strategies in the region. The business visitation program will continue on an annual basis and will commence again by the fall of 2014 with additional company visits, data collection and analysis.
“Existing firms and start-ups within any community are the engines of economic growth.” says Lloyd Longfield, President and CAO, Guelph Chamber of Commerce. “They set stage for the local business climate, create new jobs and improve the community’s overall prosperity and quality of life; so it is important to know how we can best support them”
Central to the BR+E program, which is used throughout many towns and cities in North America, is a clear understanding of business needs and the creation of policies and programs for business development and growth. Grow Guelph BR+E program is designed to connect directly with business owners and managers to identify business needs, opportunities and issues. The information collected will be used to mitigate issues and obstacles, connect businesses to relevant local support organizations and their services and identify gaps where business programs and resources may need to be further developed.
Guelph is already host to many local, regional, provincial and national organizations that support Guelph businesses and economic growth. The following organizations have expressed a desire to pool resources into a central committee that will serve the Grow Guelph BR+E program:
City of Guelph; Guelph Chamber of Commerce; University of Guelph; Innovation Guelph; Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin; Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre; Downtown Guelph Business Association; Ontario Ministry of Economic Development Trade and Employment; Ontario Ministry of Agriculture & Food/Ministry of Rural Affairs; Conestoga College and Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Network.
Individuals from this committee will form a task force of experts, in specific fields of the local economy and will also carry out business visitations for Guelph’s BR+E program. This collaborative effort will help to build more effective and efficient business support services and long-lasting relationships with managers and business owners.
“Our faculty, students and researchers create new products and technology, and work with industry and businesses in other ways, including supporting and promoting economic growth and development. The Grow Guelph BR+E program simply formalizes the role the University of Guelph already plays as a community resource for business,” says President Alastair Summerlee.
Barbara Maly, Business Development Consultant at the City of Guelph, will lead the program as the BR+E Project Manager.
“Community led BR+E is a widely successful and proven economic model used throughout North America,” says Barbara Maly, “The Grow Guelph BR+E program commits to supporting local companies that are important to the future of Guelph’s economy and to those who have already invested here.”
The long-term goal of the Grow Guelph BR+E program is to acknowledge the value that local businesses contribute to our community, and to create a strong local economy where businesses can grow and prosper.
This project is in part funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development’s Invest Canada Community Initiative program.

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