Supporting existing businesses drives economic growth

November 16, 2023   ·   0 Comments


It seems economic success isn’t limited to enabling the launch of a new business or industry.

Sandy Brown, chairperson of the Economic Development and Culture Committee, told Orangeville council during its Nov. 13 meeting that 75 per cent of employment growth happens within existing businesses.

“Sometimes we think that attracting new business is the most important focus of economic development,” he said. “But what the data shows is we should be focusing on business retention and expansion and helping local businesses grow.”

The last Census data shows that the Baby Boomer employee bubble has burst, and a retirement surge is responsible for many job vacancies.

“In fact, young people are working and we need more of them to come out,” Brown said.

But that’s complicated by issues such as the trouble with securing affordable housing and the complications that it causes on the employment front.

Brown told Orangeville council that the Economic Development and Culture Committee will focus on support for a community improvement plan as part of its 2024 work plan.

Community engagement is important, and to that end, the committee will host job fairs and another economic outlook breakfast. There are also plans to tap the arts community to spur economic development.

“We’re looking at initiating some additional film permit development,” Brown said.

The bones of business outreach, he said, are much in line with how Mayor Lisa Post has reached out to the community by way of her open house meet-and-greets when residents can engage their elected representatives.

“To get out to the business community and have some small focus group meetings, hopefully with a member of our committee, a member of council, and a member of staff,” he said. “Maybe in a group of six or eight businesses and listen to what they have to say about their successes and their issues with the town.”

Brown said there tends to be a focus on the downtown core. But many Orangeville businesses are in the industrial areas, and other retail areas away from downtown should be engaged.

Councillor Joe Andrews said connecting with the community’s business leaders will be very important in the year ahead.

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