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Developing a Community Economic Development Approach for Chatham-Kent

This morning, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) held a Community Economic Development 101 workshop focused on helping community leaders from across Chatham-Kent look at ways to strengthen local economic development activities. The event, which was held in partnership with Chatham-Kent Economic Development, looked at a combination of both development theory and also practical discussion focused on planning opportunities.

The half-day workshop dove into the topic of Community Economic Development (CED) and the benefits of fostering an environment for wealth creation and well-being for the benefit of the entire community.

“What kind of tree do you want to grow into?” asked Jeff Kinsella, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor with OMAFRA. “Your community needs to agree on which direction that it wants to take in order to grow. Through discussion, planning, and having a clear vision, your community can attract the right fit of businesses and people for the region.”

The CED approach recognizes that economic, environmental, and social challenges are interdependent, complex and ever-changing. This means that to be effective, planning must be led by community members who will reflect the values of the region. This will lead to solutions that are rooted in local knowledge, skills, and resources.

“The session made the key point of developing and strengthening our partnerships with formal agencies such as Chambers of Commerce and BIA’s, and also with more of the residents so that we can better understand the kind of development they want to focus on in Chatham-Kent,” said Stuart McFadden, Director of Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “It was positive to hear that changes we have recently made to the Economic Development team are inline with strategies recommended and will help us keep an even better pulse on the community.”

Outcomes identified in the workshop included helping attendees understand how they can play an active role as a Community Economic Development leader, encourage the development of new community engagement sessions and teams, and looking at ways to evaluate existing plans and measures.

“In order to move the bar forward in your community, it’s important to recognize that we are in a period of shifting priorities including economic demands, fiscal restraints, trade and global agreements, and also environmental pressures,” said Kinsella. “As an example, Ontario and many parts of Canada are going through drastic labour change demands because of record low unemployment rates, with some regions nearing 1 percent. How the community adapts will be vital for the success of their growth.”

Kinsella added, “This is where Chatham-Kent needs to ensure that all partners are aligned and pulling in the same direction in order to ensure they are moving together towards a common goal.”

If you are interested in being a part of future Community Economic Development workshops and engagement activities, please visit or call Economic Development at 519-351-7700. In addition, to access development tools available through OMAFRA, you can contact Jeff Kinsella at 519-674-1335.

  Those in the room represented a diverse cross-section of the community including business, private citizen, and Councillors

Jeff Kinsella, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor with OMAFRA leading an engaging discussion regarding Community Economic Development with 30 workshop attendees. Those in the room represented a diverse cross-section of the community including business, private citizen, and Councillors.

Additional Details:

  • In the workshop discussed:
    • The definition of CED
    • Infrastructure
    • Workforce Development
    • Research and Marketing
    • Policy and Legislation
    • Community Revitalization
    • Business Development
    • Entrepreneurship and Small business and
    • Investment Attraction
  • The benefits of planning discussed and included:
    • The efficient use of resources 
    • Follow through on stated priorities
    • Community engagement
    • Data sources to support your planning activities
  • Learn more about Chatham-Kent Economic Development on our website:

Media Contact:
Andrew Tompsett
Marketing and Communications Officer
Economic Development Services, Community Development

Municipality of Chatham-Kent
315 King Street West
Chatham, ON  N7M 5K8
Phone: 519.352.8401 x2039
Fax: 519.436.3237