West Nipissing Business Growth Initiative

The  “West Nipissing Business Growth Initiative” project is a multi-level multi-year project designed to enhance local markets by ensuring sustainability and encouraging growth opportunities while at the same time addressing issues such as food security, youth entrepreneurship, and export marketing opportunities for small and medium size enterprise (SMEs) - from small craft manufacturers to larger operations. Components of the project touch on a variety of areas first by cataloguing and registering every business in the area, then creating a comprehensive regional recognition stamp (branding the West Nipissing business community) and providing not only "pride of place", but local and exterior marketing for those enterprises that need assistance in getting their goods/services to market by utilizing technology and other means. The project will implement a good number of West Nipissing’s human resources requirements and priorities that were identified through the Labour Market Initiative (LMI) study completed in 2010.

The West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce took the LMI results and examined them in light of a private enterprise perspective. The Chamber is working in cooperation with various economic development agencies, but is not bound by the typical economic development model of trying to attain regional growth by attracting outside investment in major enterprise - we leave that to other organizations who have that as their model and who have the means to provide tax breaks, free land, and other such incentives. Our proposed model is to pay very close attention to the details of what is already extant in our area, catalogue all of our SMEs, assist through an online "central warehousing" opportunity managed by The Chamber, and grow our markets locally and regionally (and internationally) in a manner which takes advantage of the burgeoning interest in local quality goods and resources and the latest in technology. 

While a major thrust of this initiative is to assist small existing manufacturing and retail, youth entrepreneurship and new business, there is also a major focus on developing the agricultural sector of West Nipissing. The agricultural component of the project includes things such as a regional wide agricultural symposium, a farm products trade show, with an eye to ensuring local food security in northeastern Ontario, especially in a post peak oil period; and finding out what infrastructure we need to make that security a reality. This project will act as the vehicle in achieving open communication, mobilisation and collaboration amongst the farming community giving them an edge and becoming strategic competitors of the agricultural sector on a larger scale.

The West Nipissing Business Growth Initiative project will help achieve 2 of the 3 reoccurring priorities identified in the Human Resource Requirements study (LMI) and its action plan; which were Corporate Branding and Building Entrepreneurial capacity with the addition of a special focus on the Agricultural sector of West Nipissing. 

The project objectives are as follows:

1.  Corporate Branding

-  Expand West Nipissing’s current market using existing business

-  Increase the exportability of West Nipissing products/services

-  Create a vibrant business community by finding out what is attractive to both West Nipissing residents and visitors

-  Create a committed and long-term marketing campaign that will brand the West Nipissing Business community  (Creation of a regional stamp)

 2.  Building Entrepreneurial Capacity

- Raise awareness of entrepreneurship opportunities and the potential of agriculture as a potential rewarding career at the local secondary level

- Create opportunities of networking amongst the local business community while fostering an engaged and educated business community

- Developing and engaging the Agricultural sector - Capacity building and enhancing collaboration within the agricultural sector providing them with a strategic competitive edge (Creation of a strategic vision and road map for the agricultural sector)

3.  Fostering growth within the Agricultural Sector

-   Building capacity and enhancing collaboration within the sector thus providing the agricultural sector with a strategic competitive edge;

-   Increase the exportability of West Nipissing agricultural products and services;

-  Create networking opportunities while fostering an engaged and educated sector;

-  Create public awareness on the local agricultural sector;

-  Expand West Nipissing's agricultural markets using existing businesses. 

The key project activities include:

Interactive Website with a built in E-commerce catalogue function (Shopping cart) and business registration capacity: Develop an interactive website that will have the following functions - Provide Chamber members with online advertising; ability for new business to register themselves online; market local business community; disseminate local business information, tips, events online, allow for secure commerce, provide the ability for new business to register online and give the user the ability to maintain their own commerce and web presence. The development of an E-commerce catalogue function on the Chamber website will offer local business a platform in which they will be able to offer their goods and services for sale over the Internet. This site will be developed using ASP.net or equivalent technology for the front end with an SQL database back end and will have a secure encryption login procedures. This website will be a CMS site (Content Management System) providing for internal management.

West Nipissing Business Inventory: Conduct research and create a complete up to date inventory in the form of a user friendly database of West Nipissing’s business markets inclusive of services and product types businesses, home-based businesses etc… The research conducted during this process will help in the research process of the Consultant who will be hired to develop and Gap and Markets feasibility study.

Gaps and Markets feasibility study: Obtain the services of a consultant to conduct a Gaps and Markets feasibility study to determine business gaps, opportunities and niche markets in West Nipissing. After the study is complete it will be shared with the community at large as well as local high schools promoting and informing them of entrepreneurial possibilities in West Nipissing. The study could also be utilised as a recruitment tool for the Municipality of West Nipissing.

Marketing Campaign and Branding Strategy: Develop a marketing campaign and branding strategy whose branding objectives will include: delivering a clear and concise message, confirms credibility, connects target prospects emotionally, motivates the buyer and promotes consumer loyalty. Work plan includes community consultations and focus groups, creation of an image, slogan and logo, development of marketing plan and creation of promotional items to promote an Eat Local Shop Local Campaign.

SME web based commercial: Create a web based SME commercial to promote Shop Local – Eat Local campaign and attract outside clientele.

Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium: Delivery of a one-day entrepreneurship symposium targeted to local high school students, future and potential entrepreneurs as well as the business community at large.  The youth entrepreneurship component will focus on debunking entrepreneurial myths, provide a modern image of what it means to be an entrepreneur promoting it as a viable career option, open dialogue as well as open communication between youth and entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship Seminars, Workshops and Networking Opportunities: Delivery of half day entrepreneurships seminars and networking opportunities that will target specific topics of interests that currently affect and influence business in West Nipissing (i.e. social media, succession planning etc.

Developing and engaging the agricultural sector: Establish one on one relationships with the agricultural sector (work to be carried out by visiting farms individually and speaking with key sector leaders on a personal level). Consult the agricultural sector on what topics they would like to see covered during the Agricultural Symposium as well as gather feedback on how best to proceed in terms of timing, logistics and content of the Symposium in order to maximize private sector participation to the Agricultural symposium.

Farm product trade show/networking opportunity: Deliver a farm product trade show/networking opportunity for the business community with emphasis on local food with an agricultural guest speaker. The agricultural sector will be able to display their goods and services and participants will be able to enjoy locally grown food. Networking amongst both the business community at large and the farming community. An event aimed at establishing relationships leading to the agricultural symposium. One night event - farm product trade show.

Regional Wide agricultural symposium: Delivery of a 2 1/2 day agricultural symposium that will cover diverse topics of interest such as the role of agriculture in the local economy and society, raise awareness of the full sector needs in the area, feature elite guest speakers, local farmers, dynamic facilitators for concurrent break-out sessions, present viable business opportunities on utilizing resource based business and succession planning. The symposium will also provide an opportunity for exchange between local youth and local farmers by involving high school students in breakout sessions and planning farm tours.

Create an Agricultural Task Force Committee: Address issues and opportunities that were identified during the Agricultural Symposium by creating an Agricultural Task Force committee that will work together in creating a strategic vision and road map in achieving prosperity for the agricultural sector of West Nipissing - collaboration to strengthen the agricultural sector of West Nipissing. Facilitate an "agricultural sector consultation » to present a strategic vision and road map recommendations - a direct product of the Agricultural Symposium and work from the Agricultural Task Force Committee.

In its totality the West Nipissing Business Growth Initiative project is a 3-year project valued at $373,550. Ultimately, the purpose of the project is to address challenges, gaps and opportunities that were identified through the Labour Market Initiative/Human Resource Requirements (LMI) study completed in 2010 which was funded by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities along with other community partners such as the West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce, the Municipality of West Nipissing, College Boréal, Economic Partners Sudbury East West Nipissing CFDC, RDÉE Ontario and the Labour Market Group. The study findings were given considerable weight and attention when it came to developing the project goals, objectives, activities and overall purpose. All these factors are in direct correlation with one another.