WHY this research – now? and  HOW will Ontario’s agri-food and rural sectors and urban partners benefit?

  1. REAPontario builds on best business practices of Ontario’s agri-food value chains [VC]
  2. New immigrant researchers, government policy advisors, and investors have introduced ethnic crops and processed goods into local and global markets.
  3. REAPontario will benefit rural Ontario’s immigrant entrepreneurs, their businesses’ viability, the nature of their VC’s, and contribute directly to economic development of local communities.
  4. Value Chain comparisons across economic regions, including their relationship to GTA, will help:
    • identify, leverage and accelerate the profitability of current and future immigrant entrepreneurs,
    • benefit entrepreneurs in general, and
    • inform other policy-makers.

Will these research results matter?

  • To remain globally competitive, Ontario’s rural communities must attract immigrant entrepreneurs who can grow local populations and regional economies.
  • Yet immigration is down across Ontario and most immigrants settle in urban areas.
  • Strong rural policies have potential to attract more immigrants and secondary migrants already living in urban areas, particularly if they can showcase entrepreneurism and small business opportunities that match immigrant skills and interests.
  • This research will focus on the agri-food sector which is a growing economic driver and well positioned to potentially achieve profits in domestic, import and export markets quickly.
  • The proposed research will:
    • identify Ontario’s rural IEs, their firms’ issues and measure qualitatively the financial implications of their successes and constraints;
    • develop and implement models and case studies to obtain econometrics for measuring economic changes and trends in profitability and competitiveness.
  • This research foundation supports creating policy recommendations for attracting more IEs to rural areas.

What research methods will be used?

The research will have three components:

  1. Foundational Data (context):  review of scholarly literature and existing research reports, Environmental scans of business services and supports aimed at entrepreneurship and immigrant entrepreneurship, and analysis of various relevant datasets
  2. Living Data (socio-economic objectives):  interviews, surveys, and community asset mapping with service providers, immigrant business owners, and other key informants.
  3. Case Studies.  A series of case studies will examine the issue of whether or not rural IEs are profitable and provide value-added contributions to the Ontario economy, what that value might be and how contributions are achieved.
    • The research will study the profitability and the value-added contributions of 10 rural immigrant entrepreneurs (including secondary migrants) whose business ventures are focused on ethnic crop production in 5 economic regions of the province.
    • The study will identify these producers’ business relationships and also assess, in aggregate, their profitability and value-added contributions to their respective agri-food value chain (VC).
    • These IE businesses will be supported and actively engaged throughout the 3 year project.