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Entrepreneur Driven Economic Development | Part 1

Updated: Apr 17

economic development


In Grey and Bruce Counties, the economic landscape is undergoing a significant transformation. The Grey't Reset plan, Grey County's new economic, tourism, and culture strategy, lays a foundational framework.

However, the real impetus for sustainable economic development lies in the hands of local entrepreneurs. 

This blog post explores the vital role of these business owners, drawing insights from my podcast interview with Richard Gils of GBTEL, and emphasizes the need for a more entrepreneur-led approach, complemented by effective government strategies like a robust commercialization plan.

Entrepreneurial Resilience and Local Leadership 

Entrepreneurs like Richard Gils exemplify the resilience and innovation needed in rural settings like Grey and Bruce Counties. Their deep understanding of local market dynamics and adaptability is crucial in not just driving economic growth but ensuring that it aligns with regional plans like the Grey't Reset. 

These local leaders are essential in turning government strategies into tangible economic successes.


RELATED: Learn from local Grey-Bruce Entrepreneurs including: Megan Silk, Gerard Buckley, Lauren Best, Tracy Robinson and Janice Campbell


But how exactly do these entrepreneurs build such resilient and innovative businesses in rural settings? Richard Gils' story provides some insights.

Cultivating Trust and Talent in Rural Business 

Richard Gils' approach to building a skilled team for GBTEL in a rural setting highlights the importance of trust and seizing potential in individuals, often overlooked in traditional business settings.

True economic development goes beyond financial transactions; it's about building a network of support and fostering a sense of community.

His philosophy of giving opportunities to those eager to learn, regardless of their background, fosters a culture of growth and opportunity, essential for rural business success.

While individual business strategies like Gils' are crucial, they operate within a broader economic context. This brings us to the role of government strategies and their alignment with entrepreneurial efforts.

The Grey't Reset Plan and Commercialization Gaps 

While the Grey't Reset plan outlines a vision for economic, tourism, and cultural development, a critical aspect often overlooked in government strategies is the commercialization of innovations. 

As highlighted in Charles Plant's commentary via the C.D. Howe Institute, there's a disproportionate emphasis on research and innovation, with insufficient focus on marketing and sales strategies essential for commercialization

This gap presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs in Grey and Bruce Counties to lead the way in bringing innovative products and services to market, complementing government efforts.


The economic fabric of Grey and Bruce Counties is woven from various sectors, each contributing to the region's growth. Let's explore these sectors and their impact.

Diverse Economic Sectors in Grey and Bruce Counties 

The economic development of Grey and Bruce Counties is bolstered by a variety of sectors, each contributing uniquely to the region's growth. The accommodation and food sectors, driven by tourism attractions like the Blue Mountain Resort and Georgian Bay, offer significant growth opportunities. 

Manufacturing, accounting for a substantial part of the workforce, is supported by organizations like the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium. Farming, retail, healthcare, construction, and energy sectors also play crucial roles, with innovative projects and educational contributions enhancing the local economy.


RELATED: Our assessment of the Grey Bruce economy


This diversity in sectors underscores the importance of locally owned businesses and their role in regional economic growth.

The Significance of Locally Owned Businesses 

The economic narrative of Grey and Bruce Counties is deeply intertwined with the success of locally owned businesses. Their growth and leadership are integral to the overall prosperity of the region, ensuring that the benefits of plans like the Grey't Reset are realized locally. 

Entrepreneurs must navigate these with a strategic mindset, leveraging local strengths and addressing market gaps.

But what does this mean for the broader entrepreneurial landscape in Grey Bruce, and how do these factors interplay?

Complexities and Opportunities in Grey Bruce 

The entrepreneurial landscape in Grey Bruce is a patchwork of diverse opportunities, influenced by factors like tourism and senior living. Gils' experience underscores the importance of government support in creating a conducive environment for businesses, similar to models seen in countries like South Korea. 

However, disparities in this support across sectors have led to uneven regional development. This calls for a more balanced approach, where local businesses, especially in under-supported sectors, are given the attention they need to flourish.

Beyond economic sectors and government strategies, the essence of economic development lies in the community and collaborative spirit among entrepreneurs.

Collaboration and Community in Entrepreneurship 

True economic development goes beyond financial transactions; it's about building a network of support and fostering a sense of community.

Initiatives like Mi6’s pilot barter co-op, our monthly coffee club get together in Owen Sound and later this year the launch of our entrepreneurial network exemplify this, where value exchange extends beyond monetary gains, strengthening the entire business ecosystem. 

In line with fostering collaboration, let's delve into the importance of data and research in assessing economic opportunities, as emphasized in our ongoing blog series.

The Role of Data and Research in Economic Development 

Our blog series on economic development across Ontario, with a focus on Grey and Bruce Counties, underscores the importance of data and research in identifying and assessing economic opportunities. 

Through an analysis of local government economic development plans and leveraging publicly available resources, we gain insights that guide our strategies. This data-driven approach is crucial for entrepreneurs to develop their businesses effectively and contribute to regional economic growth.

However, disparities in this support across sectors have led to uneven regional development. This calls for a more balanced approach, where local businesses, especially in under-supported sectors, are given the attention they need to flourish.

This data-driven approach leads us to consider the upcoming initiatives and goals for our agency, Mi6.

Upcoming Initiatives and Goals for Mi6 

In our upcoming blog post, we will explore market sizing for entrepreneurs in Grey and Bruce Counties. This market development assessment sizing experiment aims to assist entrepreneurs, whether established or new to the region, in understanding the local market dynamics. 

Our goal for Mi6 in 2024 and beyond is to attract high-value clients by providing valuable insights and strategies that drive economic growth in these counties.


The future of economic development in Grey and Bruce Counties hinges on the active involvement and leadership of local entrepreneurs, complemented by effective government strategies like the Grey't Reset plan and a focus on commercialization. 

As we continue to explore and implement strategies that support these local business owners, we pave the way for a thriving, resilient, and prosperous community.

Join the Conversation

What are your thoughts on the role of entrepreneurs and government strategies like the Grey't Reset in shaping the economic future of Grey and Bruce Counties? 

How can we bridge the gap between innovation and commercialization? Share your insights and experiences in the comments below, contact me or book some time to discuss.

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.

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1 Comment

Good approach Chris. G-B counties have alot of quality of life appeal, making the area attractive to many entrepreneurs, especially experienced businesspeople as they age up and are looking for their next stage, whether self-employment or starting a business. Regardless of age, the #1 reason Canadians with business ideas do not start them is the fear of failure. So your ecosystem approach, creating networks, mentors, collaborations, should be very helpful in overcoming that.

Our work at would be pleased to support as desired. We match age 45+ businesspeople with businesses of all stages, with focus on startups and small & medium businesses, who can really make use of the knowledge transfer from seasoned businesspeople.

Kind regards, David Smith, founder…

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