Attracting Immigrants: Promising Practices from Rural Areas (PART THREE)

BRIANE LABUTE IMG_6624 (1) Today’s post is a guest blog post comes from The Rural Immigration Project directed by Dr. Wayne Caldwell, a 3-year project housed at the University of Guelph that is exploring different approaches rural communities are using to attract and retain immigrants.

Author Brianne Labute and colleague Bakhtawar Khan spoke to immigrants, policy-makers, and service providers in four Ontario case study areas to uncover promising practices that may be applicable to other rural regions.

In the previous two posts we discussed the creation of an attraction strategy and a community brand. Today’s post will discuss marketing and promotion.

Marketing and Promotion

“We are an untold good story. We want to grow, we have everything, but they don’t know we are here.”

– Elected Official, Smiths Falls, Ontario

Smith Falls Ontario

Marketing is the process of raising awareness about your community. Some marketing tools that communities use include:

  • promotional merchandise: t-shirts, notepads
  • advertisements: transit ads, TV ads
  • printed materials: brochures, postcards
  • websites: immigration portals, employment portals
  • outreach: partnerships with employment centres in urban centres
  • community ambassadors: presence at job fairs/expos/conferences
  • direct marketing, such as community exploration tours
  • social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Given the scarcity of resources available to small communities, focus on attracting secondary migrants from nearby urban centres instead of marketing internationally.

Promising Practice: Community Exploration Tours

The Ontario Far Northeast Training Board (FNETB) launched the Make Way for Youth project in 2013. This three-year project seeks to attract youth (aged 18-35) to the Northern rural communities. In 2015, the project ran a 7-day, all-expenses-paid guided tour of the employers and the lifestyle in the Town of Cochrane/ Iroquois Falls, Hearst, and Kapuskasing. Although their target audience was Canadian youth with post-secondary education, the organizers found that many international students and recent immigrants utilized the opportThe Far North Training Boardunity.


 “Two of the seven tour participants landed jobs in the region and decided to relocate. Both of them were new immigrants to Canada.”

Promising Practice:  Promoting Northern Job Opportunities to Immigrants in Urban Centres

The Local Immigration Partnerships (LIP) in Timmins and North Bay promote employment opportunities in Northern Ontario by connecting with employment centres in Mississauga, Toronto, London, and Windsor. Many employment agencies in urban centres struggle to find employment opportunities for a large number of immigrant clients. In those situations, the employment counselors can inform their clients about job opportunities in the North.

Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade

Promising Practice: Collaborative Marketing

An immigration marketing strategy was created for five small cities (Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, North Bay, and Sudbury) in Northern Ontario to highlight the region as a whole and leverage resources. Marketing efforts included attending tradeshows, settlement expositions, and conferences across Canada. The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration, and International Trade funded these efforts.

The final blog post in this series will discuss initiatives to foster immigrant entrepreneurship. Stay tuned!

Funding for this research project is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) New Directions Program.

For more information please contact Brianne Labute ( )

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