top of page

Grey't Reset: Grey County

Updated: Dec 30, 2023


Grey't Reset

Navigating Opportunities and Challenges for Grey County Entrepreneurs


As entrepreneurs are we at a pivotal moment for Grey County's economic landscape? As local business owners and entrepreneurs, do we stand at the crossroads of change and opportunity with the introduction of the Grey't Reset – the latest Economic Development, Tourism, and Culture Master Plan by Grey County? 


This plan, adopted in October 2023, is a culmination of extensive consultations and strategic thinking, and promises to reshape our county's economic future.


But, as with any ambitious blueprint, it brings with it a mix of potential impacts – both positive and challenging – for our local business community.


In this blog, we delve deep into the Grey't Reset, unpacking its core objectives, strategies, and the implications for our businesses. 


We recognize that while the plan charts a course towards growth and innovation, it also navigates complex terrain that may not directly address every pressing issue, such as housing affordability, transportation and labour shortage challenges. 


My aim is to provide you with a comprehensive overview, equipping you with the knowledge to leverage this plan's strengths and navigate its limitations.


As entrepreneurs, our adaptability, creativity, and community spirit have always been our greatest assets. The Grey't Reset presents a new chapter, one where these qualities are more vital than ever.


Let's explore together how this plan aligns with our collective aspirations for Grey County and what it means for the future of our businesses.


Executive Summary of the Grey't Reset

In recent years, the business landscape of Grey County has undergone significant transformations. Recognizing these changes, the Grey't Reset emerges as a strategic response, aiming to reorient and fortify the region's economic, tourism, and cultural activities.


This plan is not just about building on past strategies; it's a comprehensive approach to strengthening and diversifying our local economy and providing clear, long-term guidance for Grey County's development.


The Grey't Reset was developed collaboratively by Grey County and its partners, embodying a collective drive towards community success, growth, and investment. What sets this Master Plan apart is its proactive, rather than reactive, approach.


It takes into account the unique economic, geographic, social, and cultural diversity of Grey County, ensuring that the actions and strategies are tailor-made to our community’s specific needs​​.


The development of the plan involved an extensive process, beginning with a quantitative analysis of Grey County’s economic, social, and cultural environment. This was followed by qualitative insights gained through community consultations, providing a rich understanding of the strengths, challenges, opportunities, and aspirations within the county.


These insights were then translated into key themes, which formed the foundation of the plan​​.


A recurring message throughout the consultations was a deep appreciation for Grey County's unique qualities – its stunning natural landscape and high quality of life.


This sentiment shaped the 'Made in Grey' approach of the plan, emphasizing a growth strategy that celebrates and preserves our county's identity while embracing sustainable and collaborative development​​.


As we embark on this journey with the Grey't Reset, it's crucial for us, the business community of Grey County, to understand and engage with the plan. It offers a roadmap for growth and innovation, but also requires our active participation and adaptability to realize its full potential.

Significant achievements in the past five years, such as business growth, innovative program development, and infrastructure improvements, have laid the groundwork for the Grey't Reset.


These accomplishments highlight the county's capability and readiness for implementing this ambitious plan​​.


The Grey't Reset is designed to bring maximum value to our member municipalities and partners by leveraging available resources and prioritizing community needs.


It's a plan that reflects Grey County's commitment to being forward-thinking, innovative, and interconnected, aiming for a diversified economy that is inclusive and sustainable​​​​.


As we embark on this journey with the Grey't Reset, it's crucial for us, the business community of Grey County, to understand and engage with the plan.


It offers a roadmap for growth and innovation, but also requires our active participation and adaptability to realize its full potential.


A 'Made in Grey' Approach

At the heart of the Grey't Reset is the 'Made in Grey' approach, a guiding principle that encapsulates the essence of Grey County.


This approach is a testament to the community's strong sense of identity and love for the region, characterized by its breathtaking natural landscapes, including the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay, and an unparalleled quality of life that residents cherish.


The 'Made in Grey' philosophy is about more than just economic growth; it’s about nurturing and protecting our county’s unique economic, social, environmental, and cultural fabric while we collectively evolve.


What makes the 'Made in Grey' approach particularly resonant is its emphasis on local strengths and identity. It recognizes that Grey County is not just a place, but a community with a shared story and a common future.


This approach focuses on maintaining the county's character and values, even as we pursue economic development and cultural enrichment.


It’s about making conscious decisions on what we want our county to look like in the future and taking a proactive, collaborative approach to get there sustainably​​.


This locally-centric strategy has implications for businesses and entrepreneurs in Grey County. It encourages a focus on local markets and community needs, fostering a business environment that is responsive to the unique dynamics of the region.

Grey County could benefit from incorporating strategies that focus on marketing, sales, and the commercialization of local innovations.

It also opens up opportunities for businesses to collaborate, leveraging shared resources and networks to create synergies that benefit the wider community.


However, while the 'Made in Grey' approach is steeped in local pride and community values, it also presents challenges, especially for businesses looking to expand beyond local markets or those whose products and services may not align closely with the local-centric vision of the plan.


Entrepreneurs will need to navigate this balance, finding ways to grow and innovate while staying true to the ethos of 'Made in Grey'.


In essence, the 'Made in Grey' approach is a call to action for local businesses to reflect on their roles within the community, to consider how they can contribute to the collective narrative of Grey County, and to explore ways to grow in harmony with the county's core values and identity.


Recent Progress and Achievements in Grey County

Grey County has seen remarkable progress and achievements over the past five years, setting a solid foundation for the ambitious goals of the Grey't Reset.


These accomplishments not only reflect the county's growth but also its resilience and adaptability, especially in light of the challenges posed by the global pandemic.


Here’s a snapshot of some key milestones that have shaped our county's recent journey:


  1. Business Growth and Development: Grey County experienced significant business growth, with more than 2,000 new businesses emerging, bringing the total to over 12,000. This growth, amounting to a 7.5% increase in population, signals a vibrant and expanding economic landscape​​.

  2. Innovative Programs and Partnerships: The county has transitioned and grown the Business Enterprise Centre, developed the Sydenham Campus as a regional skills training, trades, and innovation center, and been named a Smart21 Intelligent Community for the second time. These initiatives reflect Grey County's commitment to innovation and community development​​.

  3. Education and Workforce Development: The expansion of Georgian College’s apprenticeship program, with seven additional programs and a growth in annual enrollment from 100 to 600, showcases Grey County's focus on education and skill development. Additionally, partnerships like the award-winning Long Term Care Workforce Collaboration have been instrumental in addressing local workforce needs​​

  4. Investment and Infrastructure: Notable achievements include the launch of a county-wide Community Improvement Plan (CIP) resulting in more than $24 million in public-private investment, the development of local business accelerator services through Catapult Grey Bruce, and significant investments in sectors like clean energy and tourism​​.

  5. Cultural and Community Initiatives: The county has launched the Made in Grey brand, developed a Local Agri-Food Strategy, embarked on foreign direct investment missions, and launched the Young Professionals Network. These initiatives contribute to a diverse and vibrant community culture​​.

  6. Tourism and Marketing: With a significant reach in tourism marketing and a high number of visitors to Grey Roots and its programs, the county has demonstrated its appeal as a tourist destination. This is further evidenced by various initiatives aimed at enhancing the visitor experience and promoting Grey County as a year-round destination​​.


These achievements underscore Grey County's dynamic approach to economic development, culture, and tourism.


However, it's important to recognize that with growth comes new challenges. As we celebrate these successes, we must also stay mindful of the evolving needs of our business community and the importance of continuing to foster an environment that supports sustainable growth and innovation.


While the Grey’t Reset highlights the significant progress and achievements in Grey County over the past five years, it's important to also consider the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as detailed in my post on the Grey Bruce economy.


This analysis revealed the substantial impacts on businesses, including reduced operations, layoffs, and dependency on government aid.


And, my interview with Richard Gils, the founder and President of GBTel, identifies key challenges he and I both see for locally owned businesses in Grey and Bruce. 


It presents a contrast to our progress by underscoring the decrease in larger businesses in Grey County and emphasizing the need for targeted economic development strategies in areas like digital transformation and support for small businesses.

While the Grey’t Reset highlights the significant progress and achievements in Grey County over the past five years, it's important to also consider the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as detailed in my post on the Grey Bruce economy.

This juxtaposition reminds us that our journey towards economic resilience is multifaceted, balancing achievements with ongoing challenges. 


Having said that optimism is the fuel we need to move things forward and there are great stories that have happened in 2023 including the Silk family’s success on Dragon’s Den and the launch of the Southern Ontario Isotope Coalition led by local Grey and Bruce organizations.



 Grey County's Role and Vision for the Next Ten Years

As we look ahead, Grey County envisions a future where collaboration, innovation, and sustainability are at the forefront of its economic, cultural, and tourism developments.


Over the next decade, the county aims to be forward-thinking and future-ready, embracing its role as a connector and facilitator across the region.


The focus will be on building a diversified economy, with special attention to sectors like clean energy, agriculture, tourism, healthcare, and culture.


This vision includes fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion, while also being sensitive to the environmental impact and preserving the natural beauty of the county.


Grey County aspires to maintain vibrant downtown's and main streets that attract both residents and visitors, while also preserving its agricultural roots and supporting local farmers.


The development of a world-class four-season tourism sector is another critical goal, ensuring that Grey County remains a desirable destination year-round.

A key gap that needs to be addressed in Grey County, and Canada for that matter, has to do with innovation commercialization

Additionally, the county plans to celebrate its rich cultural heritage and continue providing a safe, small-town feeling that is central to its identity.


In essence, the next ten years for Grey County are about knowing who we are, staying true to that identity, and collaboratively working towards a shared vision of growth and sustainability​​.


The Consultation Process and Community Input

The development of the Grey't Reset involved a robust consultation process, ensuring diverse community perspectives were incorporated.


This process began with quantitative analysis and community research, including document reviews and situational analysis. It then moved into a more qualitative phase, with extensive community consultations.


These included one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and an online public survey, allowing for a wide range of feedback and insights.


This thorough process was designed to gather, review, and refine input over three consultation loops. The result was a set of realistic and achievable priority actions, deeply informed by the community's strengths, challenges, opportunities, and aspirations.


These community-driven insights were instrumental in shaping the final Master Plan, embodying a true 'Made in Grey' approach​​.


Priority Areas and Strategic Actions

The Grey't Reset plan outlines five key priority areas, each with strategic actions to guide Grey County's economic development and tourism over the next decade:


  1. Leadership and Collaboration: Building cohesive regional partnerships, hosting leadership forums, and developing 'Team Grey' initiatives for unified economic development efforts.

  2. Investment Ready: Enhancing capacity through data sharing, systems mapping, and developing shared tools to support municipal and partner efforts, and exploring options for municipal-owned employment lands.

  3. Business Retention and Expansion: Focusing on programs and partnerships to support local businesses, hosting sector round tables, and celebrating achievements through the 'Made in Grey' program.

  4. Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Building networks and services to support entrepreneurs, facilitating regional training and innovation networks, and encouraging information sharing on common challenges.

  5. Destination Development: Developing tourism infrastructure, leading regional marketing efforts, and promoting Grey County's diverse communities to enhance visitor experiences​​.


A key gap that needs to be addressed in Grey County, and Canada for that matter, has to do with innovation commercialization

 
 

Grey County could benefit from incorporating strategies that focus on marketing, sales, and the commercialization of local innovations.


This approach would ensure that the innovative products and services developed within the county are not only groundbreaking but also successfully reach the market, enhancing the economic impact of these innovations on the local and broader economy.


Integrating a robust commercialization plan into Grey County's strategy would address a critical gap in transforming local innovations into commercial successes.


Evaluation and Implementation of the Grey't Reset Plan

The Grey't Reset plan will be evaluated and implemented through annual workplans and budget processes.


Rather than setting numerical targets, the focus will be on continuously working towards achieving the collective vision and goals. This approach allows for flexibility to adapt to changing environments. But, I'd like to see targets.


The Economic Development, Tourism, and Culture Department will deliver annual reports to the Council, reviewing the past year and recommending any necessary adjustments.


These reports, coupled with regular program and service evaluations, will ensure that the plan remains responsive and effective in meeting Grey County's evolving needs​​.


Critical Issues Beyond the Master Plan's Scope

The Grey't Reset plan, while comprehensive, overlooks several critical issues impacting Grey County:


  1. Housing: Addressing attainable housing is crucial for community stability.

  2. Climate Change: Its indirect impacts on the county's environment and economy are significant.

  3. Transportation: Accessibility issues affect resident mobility and business operations.

  4. Labour Shortages: A crucial factor affecting various sectors and economic sustainability.

  5. Digital Transformation: The absence of a focus on digital transformation and technology adoption in the plan is a notable oversight. In today's technology-driven landscape, integrating digital strategies is essential for business competitiveness and economic progress.


Recognizing and addressing these issues is vital for a holistic approach to Grey County's development and future resilience.


Potential Impacts on Local Businesses

The Grey't Reset plan's implementation will have various impacts on local businesses in Grey County:


  1. Leadership and Collaboration: Businesses may benefit from stronger regional networks and collaborative initiatives, but they'll need to actively participate and adapt to collective strategies.

  2. Investment Readiness: While there's potential for increased funding and resources, businesses must enhance their capabilities to meet the investment criteria.

  3. Entrepreneurship and Innovation: This focus can drive innovation, but businesses must balance creative endeavors with practical market demands, including commercialization.

  4. Destination Development: Tourism-related businesses will see new growth opportunities, but they'll need to align with evolving tourism strategies and market demands

  5. Business Retention and Expansion: Existing businesses will receive support for growth, but they'll need to navigate a competitive environment, balancing innovation with operational stability.


 

Check Out: Our Grey Bruce, Ontario content series

 

Watch Savanna Myer's, Director of Economic Development, Tourism and Culture, presentation to Grey County Committee of the Whole in October. I like that this is openly shared to the community at large.



Conclusion

The Grey't Reset Master Plan marks a significant step in shaping Grey County's economic future. It offers a proactive framework for growth, innovation, and sustainability, emphasizing a 'Made in Grey' approach that resonates deeply with our community's identity.


However, as we embrace this new chapter, we must also address the challenges not covered in the plan, such as housing, climate change, transportation, labor shortages, and the need for digital transformation.


 

GOT QUESTIONS OF YOUR OWN? Try our custom ChatBot and dig deeper into Grey County's Economic Development, Tourism and Culture Master Plan. (Requires ChatGPT account)

 

For Grey County's entrepreneurs, the journey ahead requires balancing the strengths of the plan with the realities of these unaddressed issues.


Our collective adaptability, creativity, and community spirit will be crucial in leveraging the opportunities the Grey't Reset presents, while also tackling the challenges that lie beyond its scope.


As we move forward, it is this balanced approach that will ensure sustainable growth and a thriving economic landscape for Grey County.


About the Author

Chris Herbert spearheads Mi6 Agency, emphasizing small business growth and entrepreneurship. On the agency's blog, he offers practical marketing insights and solutions to unique challenges faced by businesses. Herbert advocates for sustainable and responsible growth. His "Rural Entrepreneur Podcast" extends this mission, providing essential advice and experiences for entrepreneurs. He adopts a comprehensive approach, focusing on building sustainable businesses, community engagement, and active participation in entrepreneurial ventures.



73 views0 comments

留言


Ad_Free Advice.png

Content Series

Tags

bottom of page