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"Agriculture at a Crossroads"
Agriculture is one of the three main economic sectors in Simcoe County, along with industry and tourism. There are over 14,000 agriculture-related jobs in the County.

In 1998, representatives from the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture, Simcoe County District School Board and Human Resources Development Canada compiled information on the economic impact of agriculture in Simcoe County. A Socio-Economic Profile and Agriculture-Related Business Survey was produced in July of 1999.

The group subsequently hosted a forum called "Agriculture at a Crossroads in Simcoe County". This forum was held in April 1999, to discuss the future of agriculture and related sectors in Simcoe County.

In February 2000, consultations began with community organizations. Participants identified a number of critical issues and corresponding strategic actions to address these issues. A second session was held to establish Action Groups. The Ag-Industry Task Force report was finalized and accepted in the fall of 2001.

The goals and strategic actions of the Ag-Industry Task Force report have been incorporated into this plan.

Community Consultations
Essa Township's Economic Development Committee, in partnership with the Nottawasaga Community Economic Development Corporation (Nottawasaga Futures) and Human Resources Development Canada, began a community-based strategic planning process in June 2002. To encourage optimal participation, weekly advertisements were placed in local newspapers. Invitations were sent to individuals and organizations, and followed up with telephone calls.

Residents, both experienced, and new to community involvement, provided their input during two facilitated sessions. Representatives from businesses, community organizations, arts and culture groups, seniors, and youth are some examples of the sectors that participated.

During the first session, people were encouraged to talk about the community's strengths and their vision for the future. As well, they shared their concerns about the issues facing the community.

Within weeks, the second session was held. Participants worked together to develop action plans that would build upon the strengths, meet the challenges, and achieve their vision for the community.

All of this information has been included in the plan.

Business Retention and Expansion Survey
The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing program created a forum in which sensitive business information could be addressed effectively, yet confidentially.

The Essa Business Retention and Expansion Task Force and selected volunteers visited 24 local businesses to conduct a standardized survey. Upon completion of the survey, the Business Resources Coordinator reviewed the data and responded to immediate concerns. Typically, each participating business was contacted within two weeks.

The survey data was entered into specifically designed software, ensuring the business information remained confidential. A statistical analysis was conducted, and a report prepared for the Business Retention and Expansion Task Force.

The survey results were shared with the Task Force and local businesses in September 2002. The Essa Business Retention and Expansion Task Force used the report to develop action plans to improve the local business climate.

The goals and action plans identified by the Business Retention and Expansion Task Force have been included in this report.

Using this Document
The vision, goals and actions contained within this Community Strategic Plan were based upon three inputs:

  • the Ag-Industry Task Force report;
  • community consultation sessions; and
  • the Business Retention and Expansion Survey.
As the community begins to implement specific action items, it may wish to identify the source of the input.

This symbol identifies the goals and strategic actions from the Ag-Industry Task Force report.

Similarly, goals and actions identified through the consultations undertaken by the Business Retention and Expansion Task Force, are designated by this symbol.

Input from the community consultations is broadest in nature and therefore, requires no specific designation.