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Time for TransformatiON

Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre – February 7-9, 2023

We’re designing the most relevant and densely-packed educational and networking program available to economic development practitioners like you.  Please continue to check back regularly for exciting program updates.

NOTE:  Programs details are subject to change.

Attend the conference and earn 5 valuable professional certification points!


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

11:30a.m.-1:30p.m. Lunch – Who Cares About Economic Development, Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, 250 Yonge Street, 35th Floor, Toronto, ON

This lunch and learn session will focus on the “care” element of economic development and what future skills are required to create a tool kit for practitioners to address the social side of community development and how it relates to community sustainability. Traditional economic development has included investment attraction, workforce development, BREI, tourism, main street etc. While still key activities, we are seeing more and more that community and social infrastructure are critical in today’s race for talent attraction and retention. Communities who champion and win in the care economy, will also win as leading spaces and places in the years ahead. One aspect within the care economy that is experiencing transformation today is child care. Learn more about why child care is critical infrastructure for your community’s entire workforce, how to champion childcare within your day to day economic development activities, and what
initiatives are happening across Ontario to reposition care as a vital ingredient in economic development. This session sets the stage for our traditional economic development work; if we don’t have care economy we don’t have the traditional elements like land use, BR+E, labour, and more. Be part of the leading edge in your community about learning and leading!

  • Moderator:  Michelle Schurter, Founder, Millennial Strategist
  • Speakers:
    • Lauren Rooyakkers MA RP, Chair of the East Ferris Economic Development
      Committee and Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of East Ferris
    • Dr. Emis Akbari
    • Rachel Crane, Workforce Collective
    • Tonya Millsap, Manager, Early Learning and Child Care Children Services
      Department, County of Simcoe, Social and Community Services Division

Click HERE to register.

Cost: $50.00 (+hst)

1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m Pre-Conference Seminar:  Data for Economic Developers, Training on the Foundations for Regional Economic Analysis, Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, Theatre

Develop your expertise in municipal and regional economic data analysis for positive results! In this workshop you will learn data analysis techniques to identify your region’s top and emerging industries, in-demand occupations and supply chain opportunities. The three-hour session will cover the foundations for regional economic analysis in a classroom style training, The topics that will be covered include:

  • Getting started with regional economic analysis
  • Understanding the role of data and where to find up-to-date data for driving economic development decision-making.
  • Learning what economic development and workforce information is available through Lightcast Analyst
  • Generating an economic profile of your municipality or region
  • Identifying your region’s unique strengths and opportunities through such methods as determining location quotients (LQs) and performing trend and shift-share analysis.
  • Identify competitive industries and supply chain opportunities
  • Undertaking labour market analysis including In-demand occupations

This workshop requires that you bring a laptop computer in-order to log in to an online Lightcast Analyst software application. Lightcast Analyst is an online tool that pools data from a range of sources to provide information on regional economies and workforces. It helps you better understand your region so you can make informed decisions.

Click HERE to register.

Cost: $25.00 (+hst)

The Pre-conference lunch and seminar will precede the EDCO Conference and Showcase (February 7-9) to help maximize the professional benefits from limited travel budgets. Please note that registration to these events are separate and not included in the conference registration fee.

4:00-6:00 p.m. Registration Opens! (Lobby Level)
2:00-6:00 p.m. Showcase set-up
4:00-5:00 p.m. First Timer Mix & Mingle
5:00-6:30 p.m. Opening Reception  – The Second City

Kick start your EDCO 2023 experience with colleagues and be one of the first to see the famous The Second City’s new home! The Second City has been bringing the funny for over 60 years.

Stop by the Registration Desk (conveniently located in the hotel lobby) and pick up your name tag and complimentary refreshment ticket before boarding the bus!  Shuttle service will begin at 4:45 p.m.; the last shuttle will depart The Second City at approximately 6:45 p.m. 

Presented by:

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

7:30 a.m. Registration Opens / Continental Breakfast (Base of Escalator, Lower Concourse / Grand Ballroom Foyer)
8:00 a.m. Early Bird Presentation: Shared Rides, Shared Wealth
Last year, Neuron e-scooter riders spent over $26 million at local businesses in six cities. This session will explore the impact that local Neuron shared e-scooter programs and how they contribute to the local economy. 

  • Presenter:  Isaac Ransom, Head of Corporate Affairs, Canada, Neuron Mobility Canada 

Presented by:

8:30 a.m. EDCO 2022 Annual General Meeting (Grand Ballroom) (EDCO Members Only)
9:15 a.m. Conference Opening and Welcome (Grand Ballroom)
9:25 a.m. Traditional Blessing and Land Acknowledgement : Valarie King and Councilor Claire Sault, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
9:45 a.m. Opening Keynote Presentation: Brave New Work: The Modern Economic Developer’s Guide To Navigating Nonstop Transformation, Hamza Khan, Future of Work Expert | Author of Leadership, Reinvented

Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. Four words that sum up our lives between 2020 and 2023. During the past 30 months, Ontario’s economic developers experienced more changes than they did in the past 30 years. Now, more than three years later, this network faces yet another challenge: navigating a fast-approaching future of work—an always-on “new abnormal” characterized by hybrid work, persistent technological disruption, and constantly shifting community behaviours and expectations. In order to thrive in tomorrow’s fast-paced world, organizations must compress their five year plans down to two years (or less). To meet this challenge, attendees of EDCO’s 66th Annual Conference and Showcase require a bold new approach navigating nonstop change. Hamza Khan—Future of Work Expert and Best-Selling Author of “The Burnout Gamble” and “Leadership Reinvented”—believes that we must lean into an array of uniquely human qualities that are difficult, if not impossible, to disrupt. The future of work belongs to those who can change before change is required.

In this dynamic keynote address, you will…

  • Familiarize yourself with the top 3 reasons why organizations fail to navigate change
  • Understand how to operationalize & maximize 3 change-friendly values as a way to future-proof your career
  • Become inspired to transition your organization to a change-friendly state of automatic and perpetual renewal

Presented by

10:45 a.m. Health Break & Coffee in Showcase (Trinity Ballroom)
11:30 a.m.
  • Bright Ideas Competition (Grand  Ballroom)
    The EDCO Bright Ideas Committee is proud to host its 3rd annual Bright Ideas Competition. Starting in June 2022, four teams of economic development practitioners were tasked with exploring new perspectives and solutions that would support the economic development community in Ontario. After surveys, research and community engagement, three finalist teams have emerged to present their findings. Now is your chance to be part of the jury to help select this year’s winning team! Your vote will be part of the final adjudication process.Join the Bright Ideas Competition teams as they present their innovative ideas on mobile robot adaptations in public infrastructure, applications of EV charging infrastructure to business and community development and reinventing how you approach housing readiness in your community.
  • Moderators:
    • Alia Abbas, Economic Development Officer, City of Toronto
    • Tyson McMann, Business Development Consultant– Agri-Food and Food & Beverage Processing, Hamilton Economic Development
  • Public Mobile Robots
    • Anthony Fernando, Telus Public Sector Team, Smart Cities
    • Jayme Turney, Local Economic Developer Consultant
  • Housing Readiness
    • Elle Crevits, Senior Business Advisor, St. Thomas EDC
    • Lauren MacDermid, Economic Development Officer, Town of Huntsville
    • Harshit Sekhri, Market Research Specialist, My Main Street
  • EV Charging Infrastructure
    • Alex Ripley, Commercial Advisor, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’
      Energy and Environment Team
    • Madeleine Riley, Economic Development Coordinator, Town of Whitby
    • Trisha Walton, Communications and Sustainability Officer, Township of Georgian Bay
    • Marcus Tignanelli, Economic Development Officer, City of North Bay
    • Kyra Cole, Chief Executive Officer, KLB Consulting
12:30 p.m. Lunch (Grand Ballroom)

Presented by:

  • 1:45 p.m.
Concurrent Workshops
  • Are You Investment Ready? Preparing Your Community for Major Investment
    Panelists will provide an overview and their perspectives on site-specific and community factors – such as planning, infrastructure, housing and talent, that municipalities should consider when planning for, and attracting new investment.
  • Moderator:  Galen Kennedy, Manager, Regional Coordination, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT)
  • Panelists:
    • Sylvester Tuz, Team Lead, Investment Service, MEDJCT
    • Jamie Rainbird, Manager, Economic Development, Municipality of Chatham-Kent
    • Laura Gibson, Manager, MEDJCT
    • Nicole Simone, Director, Strategic Partnership, Invest Ontario 
  • Innovation in agri-business: How technology is changing the face of agriculture
    Join us to hear from innovative agricultural businesses and educational institutions who have developed ground-breaking technologies and utilized automation in agriculture to drive their productivity forward, while creating highly skilled careers in STEM and beyond. You will learn the challenges and opportunities in the exciting universe of agri-tech and how foster an agri-innovation ecosystem in your community.
  • Moderators:
    • Danielle Sharman, Economic Development Policy Analyst, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
  • Panelists:
    • Murray Good, Founder/President of Mycionics, President, Whitecrest Mushrooms
    • Mehrdad R. Kermani, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Western University
    • Chuck Baresich, President, Haggerty AgRobotics Company

Presented by:

  • DEI is a Big Thing: How communities can strategize their focus on it
    Join this interactive facilitated discussion on how communities can build strategies to be inclusive.  This session will offer tools and tactics to incorporate for communities to foster inclusivity.
  • Moderator/Panelist:
    • Nour Mazloum, Chair of the DEI Committee at EDCO; Marketing & Communications Manager at Kingston Economic Development Corporation 
  • Panelists:
    • Muhammad Ahsan, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the City of Kingston
    • John Lam, Specialist, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, City of Mississauga
    • Craig Nootchtai, Gimaa, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek

Presented by:

2:45 p.m. Health Break & Coffee in Showcase (Trinity Ballroom)
3:30 p.m. Concurrent Workshops
  • Hot Topics round tables
    Join our facilitated Hot Topic Roundtables for the opportunity to delve into issues that are relevant to communities of all sizes and brainstorm opportunities for shared solutions.  Students from our University partners will be taking notes of all the great ideas generated during the discussions that will be circulated to delegates following the conference. 
    1. Repurposing Underutilized Real Estate for Housing
      This hot topic table discussion will allow participants to discuss the current state of attainable housing (and what exactly it is) in their region, strategies to address housing shortages and achieve economic development goals.
    2. Adapting to Disruptions with Real Time Responses
      This hot topic table discussion will focus on disruptions to communities, such as climate change, public health, traffic congestions, and more.  Participants will be encouraged to share response strategies utilized in their region for these events, including responses to COVID-19 disruptions to the local economy.
    3. Talent Integration – Welcoming New Residents
      Almost every community across Ontario has experienced an influx of new residents with many being Newcomers to Canada as well, but these talented new residents are often connected to their previous communities (and jobs).  How can Economic Developers identify, target and integrate these new residents into the life of their communities?
  • Moderator:  Vito Grammatico, Supervisor, Employment, The City of Windsor
  • Let’s Talk Solutions! A Collaborative Approach to Solving Workforce Challenges
    Navigating the labour shortage and changes in the workforce requires creative, collaborative and multi-faceted solutions. Learn about best practices from across the Province and Country with a focus on training and upskilling programs and labour market data solutions.
  • Moderator:
    • Ryan Lay, Manager of Economic Development, City of Orillia
    • Kate Nash, Economic Development Champion, Town of Innisfil
  • Panelists:
    • Justin Falconer, Chief Executive Officer, Workforce Windsor Essex
    • Tricia Williams, Director, Research, Evaluation and Knowledge Mobilization, Future Skills Centre
    • Darryl Chow, Director, Business Development, Geosource Energy
    • Ryan Santos, Director, Human Resources, Geosource Energy

Presented by:

  • Community Profiles and Population Insights: Leveraging your data across applications and departments
    Environics Analytics partnership with EDCO has provided many municipalities with Ontario with thorough community profiles around their downtown cores and main streets. This session will take attendees through the process of reading, interpreting, and executing on the insights drawn from these community profiles. This session is open to all attendees, consisting of an information session, as well as a workshop component. Join us and learn more about how to apply analytics and insights about your own local populations!
  • Moderator:  Rajbir Sian, Economic Development Manager, City of Vaughan
  • Panelists:
    • Nader Shureih, Vice President, Business Development – Public Sector, Environics Analytics
    • Greg Mortson, Vice President of Account Management, Environics Analytics
    • Samuel Lau, Director of Business Development, Environics Analytics

Presented by:

4:45 p.m. Program ends for the day
4:45–6:15 p.m. Feast On® Reception (Grand Ballroom Foyer)

Feast On® is the true certified taste of local.  Each business that has gone through the Feast On® certification process has proven their commitment to sourcing and celebrating Ontario-grown food & drink. They’re going the extra mile and sourcing with purpose. They’re fighting the good fight just like those who work our land in ethical and sustainable ways. By choosing a Feast On® Certified business, you support our local food system too.

Presented by:

Thursday, February 9, 2023

8:30 a.m. Registration Opens / Continental Breakfast (Base of Escalator, Lower Concourse / Grand Ballroom Foyer)
8:45 a.m. Early Bird Presentation

How Technology is Changing the Game for Major Sites

Inventory of major sites is tight in most regions and making it easy for businesses to consider your major properties has never been more important. At the same time, advances in technology are having a major impact on how site selectors and businesses evaluate major properties. These changes originated with the widespread adoption of virtual site visits during the pandemic and have accelerated over the last few years to include hyperlocal data enabling deep analysis of major properties on an individual basis. In effect, the days of presenting major properties in cookie cutter fashion are over, and leading economic development organizations are responding by changing the way they present and market major sites to (1) ensure their major sites contain the property-specific, detailed information site selectors are seeking, and (2) utilize technology to showcase each property’s unique assets in a customized manner.

  • Presenter: Ron Bertasi, Chief Executive Officer, GIS WebTech

Presented by:

9:15 a.m. Conference Opening and Welcome (Grand Ballroom)

The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario (video greetings),
The Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (video greetings)

9:30 a.m. Plenary Presentation: Automotive is NOW!

 The automotive industry is vital to Ontario’s economy and communities. Over the past two years, the province has witnessed substantial investments in incumbent vehicle assembly plants, new electric vehicle (EV) battery suppliers, and throughout the automotive parts and technology supply chain. Governments at all levels have collaborated – and done so quite effectively – in support of automotive-related investment attraction initiatives designed to support the transition to EVs.

With additional investment attraction initiatives under way, a suite of Ontario-made automotive technologies on display to the world, and several automakers entering collective bargaining in autumn, 2023 is poised to be just as, if not more, exciting than 2022. That said, a considerable amount of work remains to be done to maximize the effects of these investments and secure others amid tight supplies of industrial land and even tighter labour markets. 

In this panel, four expert speakers will explore the impacts of recently-announced investments, the competitive landscape of the North American automotive industry in a post-pandemic environment, the opportunities and challenges for automotive parts and technology suppliers, and how the province of Ontario, its municipalities, and industry stakeholders can work together to capitalize on competitive advantages to usher in a new era’s for what is arguably Ontario’s most important industry.

  • Moderator/Panelist:
    • Rajbir Sian, Economic Development Manager, City of Vaughan
  • Panelists:
    • Tom Bedford, Director, Automotive Branch, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT)
    • Liam McGill, Senior Policy Advisor, Critical Minerals Strategy Unit, Ontario Ministry of Mines
    • Brendan Sweeney, Managing Director, Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing

Presented by:

10:45 a.m. Health Break & Coffee in Showcase (Trinity Ballroom)
11:15 a.m. Concurrent Workshops
  • Tourism Recovery, Gaps and Opportunities
    Tourism is a vital important economic driver in Ontario.Prior to the pandemic, tourism generated $38 billion in economic activity and supported more than 390,000 jobs in Ontario.As we prepare to navigate beyond the pandemic, businesses, communities, and governments are planning bold new paths to recharge, rebuild and welcome back new visitors.This session will explore tourism recovery, gaps, and opportunities following the release of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s State of the Ontario Tourism Industry report. Hear about travel trends, best practices, sustainability, and opportunities for economic growth.
  • Moderator:  James Lynn, Senior Business Advisor (A), Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
  • Presenters:
    • Dr. Jessica Ng, PhD, Director, Policy & Government Affairs, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
    • Caitlyn Drexler, Policy and Research Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
  • The ULTIMATE solution!
    In this workshop you’ll learn about “THE” solution that’s been under our noses this whole time. This solution will help mitigate the skills shortages in your community, increase the wages flowing into your workforce, improve your community’s quality of life and tap into an undervalued labour pool. Learn from our talented panel of speakers as they share research-backed data on how your community can leverage the ultimate solution!
  • Moderator:
    • Laura Thompson, Ec.D. (F), Manager of Economic Development, Town of Innisfil
  • Panelists:
    • Kadie Ward, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer, Ontario Pay Equity Commission
    • Sara Bentham, Director, Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre
    • Hon. Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity (video remarks)
  •  A Day in the Life of an Economic Developer
    Two important words for any municipality are economic development. Whether you’re new to the field or a seasoned veteran, the world of economic development is continuously changing. But, more importantly, it’s a field offering the opportunity to provide value and make a difference in where we live, work, play, and invest. So, join us for a day in the life of economic developers because even if you’ve lived it your entire career, you know that no two days are ever the same.
  • Moderator:
    • Sean Dyke, Chief Executive Officer, St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
  • Panelists:
    • George Spezza, Director, Economic Development, Niagara Region
    • Belinda Wick-Graham, Director of Economic and Community Development, Town of Minto
    • Meredith Armstrong, Director Economic Development, City of Greater Sudbury

Presented by:

12:15 p.m. Lunch (Grand Ballroom)
1:30 p.m. Workshop Sessions
  • FDI in Ontario – Opportunities and challenges
    Sponsored by ResearchFDI, a leading investment attraction consultancy, this session will provide a comprehensive analysis of the foreign direct investment (FDI) trends in Canada and Ontario.  These projections and trends will inform economic developers’ investment attraction strategies for 2023 and beyond. In addition, our team will provide concrete recommendations and insights on how to build out and/or update an existing investment attraction strategy.
  • Moderator/Panelist:  Sean Dyke, Chief Executive Officer, St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
  • Panelists:
    • Bruce Takefman, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, ResearchFDI
    • Adam Solomon, Vice-President, Business Development, ResearchFDI
    • Chris King, Chief Executive Officer, Quinte Economic Development Commission

Presented by:

  • My Mainstreet – Stories from the front lines
    The My Mainstreet Business Accelerator program was launched in August 2020 and has been successful in supporting local businesses throughout southern Ontario. In addition to supporting local businesses, municipalities were the recipient of market research data that will benefit them from a business retention and attraction perspective.  Hear from the municipalities, host organizations and a business themselves about the impact of the program.  There were a lot of lessons learned that are easily transferrable to your local area!
  • Moderator:  Doug Lindeblom, Managing Director, My Main Street, Local Business Accelerator
  • Panelists:
    • Bram Cotton, Economic Development Officer, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, City of Port Colborne
    • Phil Singeris, Business Advisor/Program Coordinator, Small Business Centre London
  • Digital Strategies to Ensure Your Community is Investment Ready
    Is your economic development organization website truly investment-ready? Most communities are open to attracting new investment, supporting existing businesses wishing to expand or relocate and creating new jobs but your chances of success are greatly enhanced by ensuring your website follows some best practices. This presentation will outline critical steps to showcase your community’s value proposition, engage prospective investors, and offer the data they and community stakeholders need for decision-making. Each set of recommendations will include practical live examples from EDOs. We will discuss proven strategies to follow up with online prospects. Bring your questions!

We will cover the following topics:

  • Getting your team aligned & ready
  • Communicating your value proposition
  • Understanding and incorporating the “musts” for an investment-ready EDO website
  • Tactics to engage investors online
  • Best practices for follow-through with web visitors
  • Moderator:  Cephas Panschow, Development Commissioner, Town of Tillsonburg
  • Presenter:  Alissa Sklar, Vice-President, Marketing, GIS Planning Inc.
    Presented by:
2:30 p.m. Health Break & Coffee (Grand Ballroom Foyer)
2:45 p.m. Closing Plenary: Balancing Life with Humour: We Are All Jugglers and the First Ball to Drop is Usually Our Own, Kate Davis, Connectivity Expert | Humour in the Workplace | Work–Life Balance

Kate Davis has the unique ability to find humour in any situation and to offer creative solutions to defuse the frustrations in the home and workplace. Kate’s generous insight and outspoken character, provides a powerful combination to help organizations empower their staff with effective tools for managing stress and sustaining motivation.

Between our jobs, home, relationships with family, friends and co-workers learning how to balance our busy life demands a strong sense of Personal Development and most importantly a Sense of Humour.

People, who attend Kate’s “Balancing Life with Humour” lecture, leave with an understanding of practical techniques for refueling, rediscovering and reengaging their true selves. Learning to use humour as an instrument of communication creates an atmosphere of compassion, caring and productivity.

3:45 p.m. Closing Remarks
4:00 p.m. Program ends
5:30 p.m. President’s Reception
6:30-10:00 p.m. President’s Dinner and Ontario Economic Development Awards: Emcee Kate Davis

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If you work in the field of economic development, you need to register for the 2023 EDCO Conference!

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