Rural economic development practitioners are at the front line of facilitating prosperous rural economies, places, and environments across Ontario. The role of economic development practitioners has greatly evolved since the last comprehensive assessment in the early 2000s. The COVID 19 pandemic has changed how rural economies are organized and how economic development practitioners can support and facilitate rural economies. New information is required to understand the role of the rural economic development practitioners. This knowledge translation and transfer research initiative will examine the role of rural economic development practitioners, determine the key skills and capacities required to succeed in field, identify what knowledge is needed to support rural economic development practitioners and identify the key formats for receiving new knowledge. In achieving these objectives, the initiative will advance rural economic development and rural economies throughout Ontario.

Research Objectives
This project will accomplish four objectives:

  • To understand the key skills, capacities, and knowledge sets required by economic development practitioners in rural Ontario.
  • To understand the role and activities conducted by rural economic development practitioners to support rural prosperity, particularly in light of COVID-19.
  • To evaluate existing KTT activities and outputs and to identify the ideal formats for sharing knowledge with rural economic development practitioners
  • To build knowledge transfer and translation capacity and provide mentorship among graduate students.

Research Team

This research is a collaborative initiative involving: Ryan Gibson (University of Guelph) Sara Epp (University of Guelph), Silvia Sarapura (University of Guelph), Serena Viola (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and community partners).

In addition to the research team members, the project will also engage the following organizations.

  • Community economic development unit, OMAFRA
  • Economic development council of Ontario
  • Ontario community Futures Development Corporations
  • Regional Municipal Associations

This research initiative will run until May, 2025