Throughout Ontario, communities of all size struggle with how to effectively engage in economic development to advance the sustainability of their community and regions. On February 7, Rural Planning and Development graduate students received a first-hand opportunity to engage in the discussions impacting the future of rural economic development with practitioners, policy makers, and elected officials.

In partnership with the Economic Development Council of Ontario (, rural planning and development students in Dr. Ryan Gibson’s economic development course facilitated discussions on key economic development challenges and opportunities confronting Ontario communities. As part of EDCO’s annual conference, students conducted discussion groups with rural economic development with practitioners, policy makers, and elected officials on five key themes:

  • immigrant attraction in rural communities,
  • addressing the impacts of minimum wage increases,
  • making the case for economic development,
  • business retention and expansion, and
  • data resources for economic development.

Students will use the information collected in the discussions to create a series of background papers identifying the key issue, illustrations of how other communities have addressed the issue, and potential strategies Ontario communities may implement. These background papers will be circulated to all EDCO members in the spring, helping EDCO members better understanding the opportunities and challenges associated with each of these key topics.

Stay tuned for more information on the background papers. As the background papers become public they will be posted to Check back in the spring!










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