An economic development campaign focused on helping agricultural businesses in the area recently kicked off in Sarnia-Lambton.
The $48,000 project, which includes 50 per cent funding through the Ontario Rural Economic Development (RED) program, involves one-on-one meetings with a consultant to discuss things such as marketing and succession planning, virtual farm tours and a video series looking at local agricultural businesses, and an upcoming seminar series also focused on those topics, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership officials said.
The program focusing specifically on agriculture – a key sector across Lambton County – is an “exciting” extension of the support the partnership already provides for main street businesses, manufacturers and others, partnership CEO Stephen Thompson said.
“The primary focus is to help to ensure that agriculture-related businesses continue to be successful and grow,” he said. “And certainly career pathways, ensuring that there’s a workforce, is critical to ensuring that these businesses are successful,” among other technical considerations like business and succession planning.
They “really are key to ensuring that businesses remain strong and grow and continue to be a driver of the Sarnia-Lambton area economy,” he said.
The Lambton Federation of Agriculture and the partnership are working together and contributing the rest of the funds for the project, said partnership economic development officer Shauna Carr.
“The key part with all of this is there is no cost to the businesses we’re supporting, either through the workshops, seminars or the one-on-one meetings,” she said.
A consultant was hired with a budget to hold 50 one-on-one meetings, and plans are to hold six or seven seminars and workshops – subjects to be determined – before January, she said.
In a recent press release announcing the grant, Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey noted the projects are two of more than 60 funded under the RED program “to help diversify local economies, retain skilled workers and create jobs.”