Business Retention and Expansion

Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is a community-based economic development programme that focuses on supporting existing businesses. It helps communities understand the local business needs and respond - so that businesses stay, grow and become more competitive in the community.

Short Term Objectives

  • Build and improve relations with existing businesses
  • Build capacity within the community and strengthen relationships between organizations
  • Identify the positive and challenging attributes of the community as a place to do business
  • Identify and address immediate concerns and issues of individual businesses through an assessment and referral process
  • Collect business and market data to support economic development planning
  • Establish and implement a strategic action plan to support existing businesses

Long Term Objectives

  • Increase the competitiveness of existing businesses
  • Enable business development, investment and job creation
  • Foster and enhance the environment for business development

Wellington County Projects

2020-2021 Business Retention and Expansion

The County of Wellington is in the process of analyzing 400+ responses from a recent Business Recovery Survey. More information to come.

2016 - 2017 Business Retention and Expansion

In 2016, the County of Wellington and seven member municipalities completed a second regional BR+E Project, focusing on the Downtown and Retail Sector.

Executive Summary for 2016-2017 BR+E

Following the success of the 2014 BR+E study and the subsequent progress made to enhance the County’s business environment, the implementation of an additional regional BR+E study was identified as a key priority. The 2016 BR+E Project focused on the Downtown/Retail and Foreign Direct Investment sectors.

Project Scope

During the 2016 BR+E Downtown/Retail Project, a total of 139 businesses were surveyed; The BR+E programme involves visiting businesses to conduct confidential interviews with senior level management, owners or managers. Data analysis and action planning is then undertaken to address issues and opportunities.

It is important to note that some businesses did not respond to our invitations to participate. Other businesses also noted that they had too little time to complete the survey or that they were hindered by the length of the survey. A key point to make is that the smaller the business community is, the percentage of businesses required to participate increases. As such, it can become more difficult to engage the required number of businesses to meet a higher level of statistical accuracy. Percentages used throughout this report may deviate by +_ 2 percent.

County of Wellington Downtown / Retail BR+E

The objective of the Downtown/ Retail BR+E programme seeks to:

  • Develop a strong relationship with the business community and understand their needs and requirements
  • Support the needs of the business community
  • Identify and act on key issues raised by the business community that are a disincentive to business operation/growth

Request a full copy of the final 2016-2017 BR+E Report

2013 - 2014 Business Retention and Expansion

In 2013, the County of Wellington and seven member municipalities completed our first-ever regional BR+E Project, focusing on the County's four main sectors: Agriculture, Manufacturing, Health Care, and the Creative Economies.

 Summary for 2013-2014 BR+E

Wellington’s BR+E Project Scope

Wellington’s BR+E project was multidimensional as it included its seven municipalities as well as a particular focus on four key sectors; agriculture, health care, manufacturing and the creative economy. Two municipalities completed additional downtown interviews, recognizing the importance that their downtowns play in their local economies. As Puslinch relies heavily on the transportation sector they interviewed ten transport businesses. The Local Immigration Partnership assisted in the interview process and conducted eight interviews to understand a newcomer’s perspective.

Who Did We Talk to?

The Wellington County BR+E project was well received with 270 businesses participating. Those businesses represented a cross section of municipalities and the four key sectors.

Key Findings

On February 20, 2014 a BR+E Retreat was held with a working group including members of the WMEDG, the Wellington County Economic Development Committee of Council and the Wellington Federation of Agriculture for the purpose of reviewing the countywide survey results. Participants were assigned to tables that would focus on one of the four key sectors of the industry throughout the session. This was intended to ensure that as the data was reviewed and discussed, the unique challenges and opportunities by key sector would be understood and reported on. The groups reviewed the quantitative data as well as the qualitative data (open ended comments) that had been collected in the survey process. The open ended responses were useful in providing context for the survey responses as well as suggestions on how businesses see the County and municipalities assisting them in the future. Discussion that day revealed that there are several shared issues that affect all sectors as well as those that are sector specific.

  • Shared Responses
    • Hydro outages and cost problems
    • Hi-speed internet availability
    • Show youth the job path of future careers
    • Commercial banks are limiting start-ups and expansions
    • Need commercial/industrial space
    • Businesses are unaware of products/services of other Wellington businesses ­
    • Need to market Wellington County
    • Need for cross business promotion
    • Need affordable housing
    • Business training needs (succession planning to online sales)
    • Need for commercial/industrial space inventory
    • Train small business to become big business
  • ­Agriculture
    • Lack of 3 phase hydro
    • Need help navigating regulatory challenges for value add expansions and on-farm processing
    • Misperceptions about career opportunities
    • Current networking does not work for farmers
    • Local food is huge market opportunity in Wellington
    • Need help navigating regulatory hoops
    • Lack of natural gas
    • Adapting to unforeseen changes
  • Manufacturing
    • Lack of 3 phase hydro
    • Not enough commercial/industrial space for small and medium businesses
    • Provide assistance/training for international growth
    • Need uniformity of municipal permits/zoning
    • Transportation of workers is challenging
    • Provide starter home options
    • Misperceptions about career opportunities
    • Lack of natural gas
  • Health Care
    • Challenges recruiting beyond just physicians
    • Demands are growing but funding is not
    • Be creative with opportunities of new Fergus hospital and Mount Forest expansion
    • Need to prepare workforce for changing health care needs
    • Market the wellness opportunities in Wellington
  • Creative Economy
    • So many unique products/services in Wellington, but no opportunity to network
    • Need more attractive/vibrant downtowns (commercial/residential mix)
    • Lack of start-up commercial space
    • Need for start-up financing options
    • Encourage maintenance of downtown properties
    • Attract newcomers for new business

Request a copy of the final 2013-2014 BR+E Report

© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909