Introduction & Background

Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is an economic-development initiative supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Funding was made available through the Rural Economic Development (RED) Program. Through a structured business survey, the BR+E project promotes a dialogue with local businesses to identify issues, concerns and potential opportunities in the business community. Findings from the BR+E survey are used to develop community-based economic development strategies.

Rationale for Study

Following the success of the 2011 Orillia BR+E study and the subsequent progress made to enhance the municipalities’ business environment, the implementation of a regional BR+E study was identified as a key priority. The region identified includes the City of Orillia, the Townships of Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn, and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.

For the purpose of this report, all references to the region or regional initiatives are meant to include the above noted areas.

The BR+E program is an internationally recognized process undertaken to enhance the business environment in a municipality or region by eliminating barriers to economic growth.


According to statistics, the majority of new job growth in any community — up to 80 percent — comes from existing business. The BR+E process was initiated as a means to survey area businesses. The survey was expected to provide a picture of the local business climate and identify major issues that may be impeding the success or expansion of local business operations. Information gathered through this survey was designed to enable the municipal and county Economic Development Offices and their community partners to assist local business in identifying and realizing growth potential and opportunities.

The BR+E program would also provide local Economic Development Offices with the perspective of local business on the economy, community and relationships with the municipalities and other key stakeholders.

Community Partners

The 2016 Lake Country BR+E Project was spearheaded by the Orillia Area CDC and became a reality through the collaborative efforts of the City of Orillia, the Townships of Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn, the Chippewas of Rama First Nation and the County of Simcoe.

Local funding for the program was provided by the CDC, the City of Orillia, the Townships of Oro-Medonte, Ramara, Severn, Rama, and the County of Simcoe, and was largely based on the number of businesses in each community. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) provided matching funding for the program through its Rural Economic Development (RED) Program.

For more information, you can go to the official website for the Ontario Business Retention and Expansion Program.