PILLAR: Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Retail, commercial and industrial businesses in the region all have their own challenges, needs and opportunities. For this reason, The Institute made it an initial priority to reach out to and engage the regional business communities.
Institute members have been collaborating with regional federal and provincial agencies and institutions – including the Small Business Enterprise Centre, the Centre for Business and Economic Development and Georgian College – to engage local businesses with them. Discussions have also been initiated with colleges, universities, training organizations and government agencies on education and skills development.
One key focus of The Institute is to better understand the needs of small business and entrepreneurs and engage the community for start-up advice, mentorship, investment, business services and general support. There is a significant opportunity to leverage the existing entrepreneurial culture in Southern Georgian Bay, that has been identified by the CFIB report on “Entrepreneurial Communities”.
To help understand those needs, The Institute uses a series of “Conversations with The Institute” to explore the subject of business, entrepreneurship and innovative approaches to growth and prosperity in the region. These sessions are focused on representatives from small and medium-sized businesses and established and aspiring entrepreneurs, plus intend to tap the wealth of business talent and expertise in the region (retired, semi-retired and recreational).
Some of those Conversations have been about hospitality and tourism in Southern Georgian Bay. They have spawned a number of ideas about the expansion of regional tourism based on agriculture, viniculture, brewing, food and drink. Suggestions for more cross‐regional collaboration on many fronts, including events and shared tourism activities have also been put forward for consideration.
Building virtual and physical community entrepreneurial connections across all community sectors, geographically and demographically, led to the concept of an Innovation Network. It was an idea that came out of The Institute’s discussions with The Creative Space, Georgian College, the Centre for Business and Economic Development and the Small Business Enterprise Centre. Inspired by this concept, The Institute is participating with various stakeholders, to explore physical innovation centres connected by virtual network nodes, working together to share, collaborate and grow, recognizing the specific needs of their communities.
From small businesses and entrepreneurs to larger companies with staff, virtually every sector in Southern Georgian Bay sees education, training and skills development as important to their future. Whether developing a new generation of young workers or up-skilling existing workers, a trained and skilled workforce is critical. The Institute is working with Georgian College and other skills development agencies on several initiatives that share common goals.