Guide To Service Providers 101: EcDev Offices

Economic Development Offices

Today’s post focuses on a type of organization that is often not thought of as a “service provider” but which in fact provides many services to business owners and potential investors in a given community.  Just about every municipality or regional government has an Economic Development Office that is either part of the local government or an arms-length partnership between government and other stakeholders.  Examples of partnership models include The Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation and The London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC).

Economic Development offices may be linked to or the same as the SBECs and CFDCs referred to in the previous post.  In some cases, these are part of the Community Futures Development Corporations, for example The Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation.  In others, SBECs may be one division within the broader Economic Development office.  There is no ‘cookie cutter’ model for these types of services in Ontario, though there are patterns.

The general goal of Economic Development Offices (“EcDev”) is to improve the economic well-being of residents through the growth and expansion of local businesses and the attraction of new businesses to the city or region.  EcDev is often thought of as focusing on larger businesses, but this stereotype overlooks the considerable work done with small business owners, not to mention the research showing that small businesses are growing in economic importance across Canada.

Here are a few examples of Economic Development Offices:

The Ontario East Economic Development Commission promotes Eastern Ontario as a centre for investment. Ontario East represents over 200 communities, with more than two million residents.

The Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation is just one of the not for profit agencies funded by The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, providing business counselling and financing to entrepreneurs in Lambton County, as well as assisting with various community based economic development projects. It specializes in helping small businesses within the areas of development, finance opportunities, grants/loans, proposals, business plans, starting a business, consulting, etc. FedNor is The Federal Economic Development Agency which funds the not for profit business development corporations in Northern Ontario.

Canada’s Economic Development Regions

Other offices that self-identified in our recent survey include

Anyone with a business interest in agri-food should consider connecting to an EcDev Office. One survey respondent from an Economic Development Office who did not self-identify noted:

“We have a full-time staff person dedicated to economic development for local food. Services provided include project facilitation for sector development, assistance with funding applications, networking, education, and marketing programs. Projects are undertaken in partnership with neighbouring counties and municipalities, local not-for-profit and community ag-and food-organizations and post secondary institutions.”

Local EcDev services may include:

  • Site-selection assistance
  • Information and research
  • Coordination of municipal services
  • Brownfield redevelopment
  • Industrial land development
  • Small business creation



Sarah V Wayland
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator

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