61st Annual Conference & Showcase

February 5-7, 2018 | Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel


Mission Possible: Agents of Change - Download (PDF)

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel - February 5-7, 2018

12:00-2:00 p.m.

Pre-Conference Seminar: Women in Economic Development - Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO
Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, 250 Yonge Street, 35th Floor, Eaton Centre, Toronto

This is your opportunity to network with the women of EDCO.

Vicki Saunders, President and CEO of SheEO will be the keynote speaker who will share her experiences when it comes to nurturing female entrepreneurs. Vicki's presentation will be followed by lunch and a networking session featuring female economic development professionals at varying stages of their career.

This seminar will precede the EDCO Conference and Showcase (February 6-7) to help maximize the professional benefits from limited travel budgets. Please note that registration to the EDCO conference is separate, and not required to participate in the seminar.

Click here to register for this pre-conference seminar.

Presented by Economic Developers Council of Ontario

2:00-6:00 p.m.

Showcase set-up

4:00-6:00 p.m.

Registration Opens (Base of Escalator, Lower Concourse)

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Opening Reception: Pinnacle, 43rd  Floor, Sheraton Centre Toronto

7:00 a.m.

Registration Opens / Breakfast Buffet (Base of Escalator, Lower Concourse / Sheraton Hall D)

Presented by Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines

7:30 a.m.

Breakfast Bites (Osgoode Ballroom)

i. The World is Changing. So is Economic Development: How technology is being harnessed by economic developers to drive local business growth.

The current economic development playbook tells you to put a community profile online with demographics, available real estate and other content typically required by site selectors. Sounds familiar, right?

Well, it’s time for a rethink. This approach is fine for a handful of site selectors, but not the 1 million small businesses who generate over 90% of new jobs in Canada. The fact is the assistance small businesses require from economic development professionals are very different than those of site selectors. In too many instances, and in too many locations, the needs of small businesses are being overlooked and communities are missing out on job creating opportunities as a consequence.

In this talk, Dave Parsell (Co-founder and CEO, Localintel) will draw on extensive research to discuss what small businesses really need from economic development professionals to start, expand and thrive in good times and bad.

You will get a glimpse into the future of economic development and learn:

  • What insights are and why they matter more to businesses than data.
  • How innovative municipalities of all sizes are using next-generation technology to support small businesses.
  • How the latest advances in big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence will help economic development professionals support local business growth.


  • Dave Parsell, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Localintel

Presented by Localintel

8:00 a.m.

EDCO 2018 Annual General Meeting (Osgoode Ballroom)

8:45 a.m.

Conference Opening and Welcome (Osgoode Ballroom)

8:55 a.m.

Traditional Blessing and Land Acknowledgement: Chief Stacey Laforme, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (Osgoode Ballroom)

9:15 a.m.

Opening Keynote Presentation: Uncertainties persist but Ontario’s economy positioned for another solid year growth

Presenter: Dawn Desjardins, Vice-President, Deputy Chief Economist, RBC Economic Research, Royal Bank of Canada

Ontario’s economy grew at the fastest pace in seven years in 2017 and while growth is likely to be slower, the economy is still expected to put in a solid performance in 2018. Ontario faces challenges ranging from rising interest rates to uncertainty about how the NAFTA negotiations will evolve but a strong labour market and the ramping up of spending by governments will go a long way to offset these pressures. Additionally, the synchronized pickup in the global economy opens the door to a good year for Ontario exporters. All told, while challenges exist, so do opportunities.

10:15 a.m.

Health Break & Coffee in Showcase (Sheraton Hall D/E)

11:00 a.m.

Concurrent Workshop Sessions

i. Growing Exports in Your Community (Sheraton Hall A)

This session will provide an understanding of new programs & resources available from Export Development Canada, Global Affairs and Ontario Ministry of International Trade. It will also demonstrate how the Canada Ontario Export Forum (COEF) works with EDOs to help SMEs become export ready and enter global markets.

Learn how a network of 24 organizations coordinates closely to provide a seamless one window access to export support services for Ontario companies. Also learn about Export Development Canada, Global Affairs Canada and Ontario Ministry of International Trade and their new programs.

Three important things that you’ll come away from the session knowing:

  1. What is COEF?
  2. Current programs available for Ontario SMES and resources that can be leveraged
  3. How EDO can access and benefit from COEF resources

Moderators: CJ Scott, Ministry of International Trade (MIT)


  • Roshan Mohan, Director, Businesses Engagement Branch, Ministry of International Trade
  • Sue Rauth, Deputy Director, Regional Office of the Trade Commissioner Service Ontario Region, Global Affairs Canada

Presented by Canada Ontario Export Forum

ii. Beyond Streetscapes, Best Practices for Recruiting Investment into Your Downtown (Sheraton Hall B)

Downtowns are the heart and soul of our communities and their survival will depend in part on our ability to attract new investment downtown. This session will provide an overview of the business climate in downtowns across Ontario. It will highlight key trends that are and will impact downtowns, as well as tools and best practices that EDOs can implement to bring new business and investment into their downtown cores. You are guaranteed to walk away from this session with some practical real-life examples from communities having success in revitalizing their downtowns through various recruitment efforts.

Moderator: Darren Shock, Economic Development Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs


  • John Archer, Chief Development Officer, Three Sixty Collective
  • Zach Gable, Senior Economic Development Officer, Haldimand County
  • Kara Van Myall, Manager of Corporate Policy & Economic Development, Bruce County
  • Craig Stevens, Managing Director, Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA)

iii. The Impact and Future of Small Business Support in Local Economic Development (Osgoode West)

Small Business is the engine of Ontario’s economy. What is your office or Small Business Centre doing to support those businesses? Join this session to discuss how your office can improve its support of your local small businesses!

This panel will share best practices in cooperation between Small Business Centres and local and regional agencies; present some examples of how small business support has been integrated into Economic Development offices; discuss the deep impact small business support services have on local economic development; and debate the future for Ontario’s network of SBECs and CFDCs as Local Economic Development agencies.

Moderator: Teresa Shaver, Executive Director, Business Advisory Contre Durham


  • Jonathan Wheatle, Manager, Strategic Economic Initiatives, Planning and Economic Development, The Regional Municipality of York
  • Thom Ryan, Sr. Business Development Officer – High Tech, Digital Media, Life Science, & Financial Services Clusters, City of Kitchener
  • Stephanie Mazhari, Manager, Entrepreneurship Services, Halton Region
  • Tim Newton, Manager, South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre
  • Elizabeth Binning, Product and Learning Specialist, GrowthWheel International Inc.

iv. Showcasing 2017's Best of Class Award of Excellence Submissions (Sheraton Hall C)

Experience the highlights of the best of the best submissions from each category from all across Ontario.  You'll be inspired and proud to be a part of your Ontario Economic Development professionals!  See what it takes to raise the Economic Development bar and take those practices and beyond, back to your own community's development!  Submitting an award is a team effort.  Bring your entire team to this session, get inspired and ideas to help learn that your community’s mission is possible.

Moderator: Alison Newton, General Manager of Economic Development & Strategic Investments, Corporation of the County of Brant

Presenter: Sofie Andreou M.Eng, Sofie Andreou & Associates

12:30 p.m.

Lunch: How Economic Development and Property Assessment Work Together (Osgoode Ballroom)

For economic development professionals, retention of existing assessment in your community is as important as finding new jobs and new assessment. Learn how MPAC ensures assessments are up-to-date and reflective of market conditions, and how Assessment Base Management initiatives can be useful in supporting targeted collaboration and information sharing between MPAC and your municipality’s economic developers, to help capture assessment growth and inform the valuation of property in your community.

Presenter: Rebecca Webb, Regional Manager, Municipal and Stakeholder Relations, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation

Presented by Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)

1:45 p.m.

Plenary: iPoliticsLive - Missing the boat? Are all regions of Ontario ready to attract the investment they need to ensure their survival? (Osgoode Ballroom)

According to the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, Ontario is forecasting real GDP growth that will surpass earlier expectations and the growth of all other G7 nations for the past three years. As the province’s “Business Growth Initiative”, a five year, 650 million dollar effort to promote an innovation-based economy continues to roll-out, questions surrounding the readiness of some regions of the province to attract investment are being asked. On February 6, 2018, IPoliticsLIVE will explore how communities must adapt in order to attract investment and ensure long-term growth. Presented by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, (EDCO), a panel of experts will detail the diversity of challenges facing rural and urban planners as they grapple with trends that put many at risk of missing out on the wave of growth.

Join in the discussion as we broadcast live from the EDCO Conference! A nationally-recognized iPolitics columnist will sit down with a panel of experts to have a lively discussion on complex issues facing economic developers.

3:00 p.m.

Health Break & Coffee in Showcase (Sheraton Hall D/E)

3:30 p.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

i. Engaging the Business Community in Economic Development Planning (Osgoode Ballroom West)

This session brings together representatives from the business community, an economic development officer, and a consulting firm involved in developing regional economic plans to explore the ways to ensure effective business community participation in the economic development planning process. Hear about the real barriers to engaging the business community from the key players and learn practical solutions on overcoming these challenges.

Learn about real experiences that regions have experienced in engaging the business community; what the main challenges were; and how to ensure better business sector involvement in future plans.

Leave with concrete ideas on how to fully engage the business community to effectively contribute at every step in developing future economic plans.

Moderator: Akin Alaga, Director, Ministry of Economic Development and Growth


  • Lauren Millier, Vice-President, MDB Insights
  • Kim Wingrove, Chief Administrative Officer, Grey County
  • Shelley Fellows, Vice-President (Operations), Radix Inc.

Presented by Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth/Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science

ii. AI & Tech Disruption – The impacts and opportunities for Ontario Towns and Cities Sheraton Hall B)

New technologies are changing the way we work and do business. These changes can be felt across economic regions and sectors, with some feeling the effects more than others. On the one hand, they should be viewed as a major driver of economic growth and prosperity. On the other, technology poses potential risks – notably for workers responsible for job tasks that can now be automated. Hear from Sean Mullin, Executive Director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, as he sheds light on the impacts of automation on Ontario’s labour force and the occupations that are at high and low risk of being impacted.

This session aims to identify how susceptible Ontario’s different regional economies are to automation, and draws upon the expertise and experience from industry and labour planning experts on how regional economies and industries are being impacted, but also finding opportunities in automation.

Moderator: Jennifer Hollett, Former CBC Journalist + Head of Government at Twitter Canada

Context Setting

  • Sean Mullin, Executive Director, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship

Panel Discussion:

  • Andrew Siegwart, President, Blue Mountain Village Association
  • Bakhtiar Moazzami, Professor / Researcher, Department of Economics, Lakehead University
  • Gemma Mendez-Smith, Executive Director, Four County Labour Market Planning BoardRobert Carlyle, Senior Director, Strategic Workforce Management, RBC
  • Robert Carlyle, Senior Director, Strategic Workforce Management, RBC

Presented by County of Brant

iii. Advances in Succession Planning: New Tools for your Community (Sheraton Hall A)

This session will arm EDOs with the latest tools and trends in succession planning while helping them to better understand the succession issue in their communities.

This session will refresh and revive small business retention strategies and supports.

Three things that you’ll learn are:

  1. How to learn about and understand the small business succession challenges unique to your community and its industries
  2. The latest strategies in small business succession and retention
  3. The latest tools to share with retiring small business owners to plan an effective exit while keeping the business alive

Here's why you need to attend: With many small business owners approaching retirement, EDOs must face the threat to their small business sector head on with the latest trends and tools.

Moderator: Meghan Ronson, Director of Partnerships, SuccessionMatching


  • Peter Cameron, Co-op Development Manager & Acting Executive DirectorOntario Co-operative Association
  • Alison Anderson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SuccessionMatching
  • Dave Meyer, (A) Director, Entrepreneurship and Start-up Services Branch, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth

iv. Decoding the Art and Science of supporting your existing Businesses (Sheraton Hall C)

Business retention and expansion (BRE) is a core economic development activity, but its execution continues to evolve. It is essential that EDOs create BRE plans that support their community's businesses.  This session will highlight new research on a Data Driven Approach to Identifying Vulnerable Plants. As well, this session will examine emerging trends for value added BRE and how EDOs are measuring the value of the program.

Moderator: Stephen Morris, Team Lead – Economic Development, Programs Unit, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


  • Laith Wardi, President, Executive Pulse Inc.
  • Chris Lau, Manager of Disruptive Technologies Unit, Ministry of Economic Development and Growth/Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science

Presented by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

4:45 p.m.

Program ends for the day

4:45–6:45 p.m.

Feast On® Ontario Reception (Sheraton Hall D/E)

Presented by Plains Midstream Canada

7:45 a.m.

Registration Opens / Breakfast Buffet (Base of Escalator, Lower Concourse / Sheraton Hall D)

8:15 a.m.

Breakfast Bites (Osgoode Ballroom)

i. Differentiate your community by identifying and investing in sub-sector cluster development strategic planning

Most communities these days experience growth in many differing industries. Rarely does an entire supply chain or cluster exist in one municipality alone. Explorer Solutions will introduce you to a unique approach of distinguishing your community from others while helping your local economic development office strategically plan how to invest resources in expanding high growth potential sub-sectors of existing or emerging industries in your municipality.


  • Christian Perrault, Senior Partner and Managing Director, Explorer Solutions
  • Jason Kipfer, Director, Economic Development, Explorer Solutions

Presented by Explorer Solutions

8:45 a.m.

Conference Opening and Welcome (Osgoode Ballroom)

9:15 a.m.

Plenary Presentation: Cooperate versus compete: How visionary Agents of Change have come together to bring new international investment to Ontario’s waterways (Osgoode Ballroom)

The name Ontario comes from an Iroquois word meaning “sparkling or beautiful water” and it’s an apt description for our province.

Ontario has more than 100,000 kilometres of rivers and streams, plus 250,000 lakes, including the Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.

Attracting tourism investment to our inland waterways such as the Rideau Canal, Trent Severn Waterway, and the Great Lakes is a priority for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

The world’s largest European canal boat operator, Le Boat, is investing in Ontario, establishing its North American Headquarters in Smiths Falls and beginning operations on the Rideau Canal in May 2018. This new investment will create jobs and raise Ontario’s profile as a global tourist destination.

In this session, you will hear how all three levels of government embraced the opportunity to work together and overcome challenges to generate new economic growth for Eastern Ontario.

Our Agents of Change panellists will share best practices and lessons learned on how cooperating ─ versus competing ─ for foreign direct investment can positively impact regions across Ontario.

Moderator: Richard McKinnell, Assistant Deputy Minister, Tourism Division, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport


  • Cheryl Brown, Managing Director, Le Boat
  • Darlene Upton, A/Vice President of Strategic Policy and Investment, Parks Canada
  • Ann Weir, Economic Development Manager, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville
  • Cyril Cooper, Economic Development and Tourism Manager, Town of Smiths Falls

Presented by Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

10:15 a.m.

Health Break & Coffee in Showcase (Sheraton Hall D/E)

11:00 a.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

i. Meet your Local Site Selectors! (Sheraton Hall A)

Learn the basics of industrial and commercial real estate, how to develop relationships with real estate professionals in your area and what they need from you to bring investment to your community. Up your data game – find out what essential information you need to have ready.

Moderator: Alison Newton, General Manager, Economic Development, Tourism and Strategic Investments, County of Brant


  • Doug Murray, SIOR, Vice-President, Sales Representative, Colliers Canada and President-Central Canada, Society of Industrial & Office Realtors (SIOR)
  • Goran Brelih, B.Sc.Eng., SIOR, Senior Vice-President, Broker, Cushman & Wakefield and Vice-President, SIOR
  • Ted L. Davis, SIOR, CIM, Managing Director, Broker of Record, Avison Young (Southwestern Ontario)

ii. Award-Winning Economic Development Programs across Ontario (Osgoode Ballroom West)

This session discusses economic development programs that have won the Community Economic Development Awards of Excellence from Community Futures Ontario, and opportunities for communities to duplicate these programs in their areas.Three things that you’ll learn are:

  1. How to implement an entrepreneurial competition in your area to bolster small businesses and economic activity
  2. What a truly successful and award-winning community improvement initiative looks like
  3. How to leverage and partner with your local Community Futures office to advance your economic development goals

The session will teach EDOs about the new and exciting things that communities are doing across Ontario to strengthen their economies.

Moderator: Diana Jedig, Executive Director, Community Futures Ontario


  • Jan Hawley, Economic Development Officer, Municipality of Huron East
  • Bill Spinney, General Manager, Parry Sound Area Community Business and Developmetn Centre Inc.
  • Carey McMaster, Innovation Specialist/Trainer, Innovation Cluster, Peterborough and the Kawarthas

iii. Declassifying Skills Shortages - Local Labour Markets May Not be Enough (Sheraton Hall B)

Our labour force is changing and growing older, with a smaller workforce aged 25 and younger coming up to replace them. It will be essential for communities and employers to have a strategic plan in place to address this reality in order to remain competitive and profitable.

Employers are having difficulty recruiting a younger workforce, and when they do find the right person they continue to have challenges finding the right skills. A lack of necessary qualifications and technical skills both ranked in the top 5 reasons why employers were having difficulty filling a position.

Come hear best practices and new techniques that businesses and Counties are doing to combat these and other workforce-related issues.

Moderator: Delia Reiche, Project Manager, Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board, Local Employment Planning Council


  • Tom Lusis, Talent Attraction Initiative, Economic Development, County of Wellington
  • Natalie Surridge, Program Director, Oxford Workforce Development Partnership
  • Judy Doidge, Director, Partnerships and Central Regional Coordinator for Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation

iv. NAFTA from a Canadian Perspective (Sheraton Hall C)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect in 1994, creating one of the world’s largest free trade zones and laying the foundations for strong economic growth and rising prosperity for Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  This session will provide a high-level understanding on the current NAFTA negotiations with an overview of what has been proposed, the trade balances and the effects these changes could have on the Canadian economy.

Moderator: Laura Pearce, Economic Development Officer, City of Cambridge


  • Dr. John Holmes, Queen's University – Department of Geography and Planning Academic Partner - Automotive Policy Research Centre
  • Hugo Cameron, Executive Lead, U.S. Trade Engagement Branch, Ontario Ministry of International Trade

12:15 p.m.

Lunch (Osgoode Ballroom)Presented by The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

1:45 p.m.

Breakout Sessionsi. Hot Button Roundtables: Solving the Mysteries within Ontario’s Rural Communities (Osgoode Ballroom East)

Through two separate Hot Button Roundtables, communities of varying sizes will have the opportunity to delve into common issues and brainstorm opportunities for shared solutions to these challenges. Roundtable topics will be drawn directly from the Spring 2017 EDCO member survey, ensuring relevance to conference attendees. These sessions will be facilitated by students from our University partners.

Presented by Urban Metrics

ii. The Evolving Energy Landscape (Sheraton Hall A)

The work of attracting new investment and retaining current businesses within your municipality is gaining in complexity with the new environmental legislations being introduced. A panel of industry experts will assist you in understanding the current energy landscape and how you can stay competitive in these changing times. This session will raise your knowledge of how you can mitigate the impacts in your area and access the incentives available to assist your businesses in staying ahead of energy efficiency targets.

Moderator: Tom Grochmal, Manager, Market Development, Union Gas Limited


  • Sue Flaman, Energy Conservation Strategy, Union Gas
  • Chris Hamilton, Team Lead, Large Commercial Sales, Enbridge Gas Distribution
  • Robert Dysiewicz, Manager, Low Carbon Market Solutions, Enbridge Gas Distribution

Presented by Union Gas Limited/Enbridge

iii. Manufacturing Insights for Positive Change in your Community (Sheraton Hall B)

Your local manufacturers are striving to level the playing field, by leveraging industry expertise, experience and resources that exist in manufacturing communities throughout Canada. Learn how industries of all sizes and sectors (along with community partners and stakeholders) are affecting positive change in their communities – by addressing critical issues affecting this sector’s growth and competitiveness.

Hear best practice examples of local, regional and national initiatives being tapped to establish new capabilities, innovative workforce solutions, certification models and hybrid skills development. EMC will also share evergreen LMI collected from thousands of manufacturers, outlining labour and productivity metrics for 80+ sector occupations being used to benchmark competitiveness.

Participants will also hear/engage discussions with industry, EDO’s and stakeholders on the tools/resources and connected industry peer networks available to help industry build workforce integrated strategies and engage better intelligence and best practices that fosters growth and innovation.

Moderator: Scott McNeil-Smith, National Director, Projects and Partnerships, Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC)


  • Al Diggins, President and General Manager, EMC
  • Shawn Casemore, Author, Unstoppable Organization and Operational Empowerment books; President, Casemore and Co. Inc.; Director, Board of Directors, EMC
  • Jean-Pierre Giroux, National Director, Skills and Talen Development, EMC

Presented by Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium

3:00-3:15 p.m.

Health Break & Coffee (Sheraton Hall D)

3:15 p.m.

Plenary: Outside the Box and Inside teh Two Row (Osgoode Ballroom)Presenter: Michele-Elise Burnett, President, Kakekalanicks Indigenous Consulting

The power of collaboration between mainstream and Indigenous knowledge is the key to building a strong, healthy and prosperous future for the next seven generations.

Bridging and establishing a sustainable collaboration/partnership between mainstream Economic Development initiatives and Indigenous knowledge will create the paradigm shift required to establish this future.

The fundamental question we must answer is "What can we learn from the past about our cross-cultural relationship that will inform the present and define our future?"

The Two Row Wampum ideology teaches us that we can build a stronger, more sustainable and more prosperous tomorrow if we work in harmony.

Michele-Elise’s journey has been mountainous with many trials and tribulations. However, staying true to the Two Row Ideology has helped her overcome adversity. In her presentation, she will describe her journey including: being the first aboriginal woman to obtain an FM Radio license in Canada (an honour she shares with her late mother), bringing the Landscape of Nations Indigenous Memorial to Queenston Heights in Niagara, fostering the Drums Across Niagara from inception to reality, and orchestrating the Celebration of Nations to bring our indigenous people together in their shared language of the arts.

Michele-Elise will also discuss the profound unifying impact these native-focused events and installations had within the indigenous community as well as on the Niagara Region as a whole. Other positive impacts to be discussed include those on businesses, regional image, tourism, public perception of Niagara's historical significance, and the local economy.

There is presently a palpable resurgence of the native peoples within Canada. This, combined with the rapid growth of this population in our country, brings with it a plethora of opportunities for those who are ready to think Outside the Box and inside the Two Row!

4:15 p.m.

Program ends

5:30 p.m.

President’s Reception *Cash Bar* (Osgoode Ballroom Foyer)

6:30-9:30 p.m.

President’s Dinner and Ontario Economic Development Awards (Osgoode Ballroom)

Host: Dave Hemstad

Presented by City of Markham

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Post-conference Seminar: Rewriting the Rules Day 1: NAFTA, International Trade and How they Impact our Communities

Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, Seminar Room

This one day seminar will follow the EDCO Conference and Showcase (February 6-7) to help maximize the professional benefits from limited travel budgets. Please note, registration to the EDCO conference is separate, and not required to participate in the seminar.

Click here for more information and to register.

Presented by Economic Developers Council of Ontario, University of Waterloo

Event starts in

  • Dawn Desjardins

    Vicki Saunders

    Michele-Elise Burnett