Stephannie Schlichter Director of Economic &
The percentage of persons in full-time employment is one of 3 key performance indicators relating to the Growing Our Economy priority, one of five priorities outlined in City Council's
2018–2022 Strategic Plan.
Full-time employment is a measure from Statistics Canada that is used as an important indicator of the health of the economy because it demonstrates both supply and demand in the job market. This measure is also a World Council on City Data performance indicator.
Business in 2020 was anything but normal and with the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, the
Economic and Creative Development Department had to quickly refocus from more traditional business attraction and retention activities to an immediate need for a COVID-19 business economic response and plan for recovery.
Small businesses make up a large portion of Barrie’s economy and their success directly impacts the number of jobs, both full-time and part-time, available to Barrie residents. Every effort possible has been made to help local businesses manage and survive through the waves of economic shutdowns, regulations, safety protocols, restrictions, and re-openings.
Through the development of a
COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and subsequent Recovery Plan, the Economic and Creative Development Department worked with community partners to undertake a series of programs and initiatives, based on direct business feedback, to support businesses through the pandemic. Key areas identified as where the City’s efforts could provide meaningful outcomes:
More detail regarding programs and initiatives is available at
Some sectors have been hit particularly hard including hospitality and tourism, arts, culture and live entertainment, and the personal services industry due to mandated closures and significantly reduced capacity limits. The Economic and Creative Development Department have been monitoring and reaching out to these businesses to help ensure they are aware of and leveraging every support available to them through Provincial and Federal programs.
'Support Local’ has been an underlying theme through all the projects and campaigns encouraging residents to shop and eat locally. During stay-at-home orders, the message was to support local businesses through online shopping from local retailers and ordering takeout from local restaurants. Programs and initiatives have been specifically aimed at ways to help businesses and restaurants increase these capacities. The Patios Everywhere Program allows restaurants to use parking areas to create new or larger outdoor eating areas. The pedestrianization of Dunlop St for events like Open Air Dunlop safely drew people to shop and dine in the downtown. The Digital Mainstreet program offers free services to businesses to build or improve their online presence.
In a year full of uncertainty and struggle for many, there have also been stories of support and success to share and provide optimism about the strength of our community. Some businesses have found opportunity within the pandemic by shifting gears and using innovation to create or produce pandemic related products or offer pandemic related services. Businesses have changed production lines to make hand sanitizer or PPE and one local business has gained provincial recognition through the Ontario Government's Small Businesses, Big Hearts Initiative for their compassion and generosity during the pandemic. The annual Mayor’s Innovation Awards took place virtually to celebrate the year's most creative solutions from businesses, individuals, and community groups. New businesses have continued to open their doors in Barrie during the core of this pandemic, and many manufacturing businesses have continued to hire.
Recovery for those sectors hardest hit by the pandemic such as tourism, and arts and culture will take time. The Economic and Creative Development Department will continue to focus efforts on supporting businesses through the pandemic and helping them to rebuild once life normalizes through the continuation of COVID related initiatives. Focusing forward into 2021:
The manufacturing sector has remained steady even through the pandemic and supporting their continued growth is important. Economic and Creative Development is focused on strategic manufacturing sector projects through the Regional Manufacturing Partnership including a new ‘Shifting Gears’ Manufacturing Newsletter and an Automation Accelerator Program to be delivered by Georgian College focused on Industry 4.0 adoption. Companies that have found opportunities to grow and pivot are looking to fill positions and the Economic and Creative Development Department continue to work on initiatives with our regional partners including a job aggregator site and online job fair tools. A new talent guide was also recently created in response to employer demand for tools to support their talent attraction efforts.
The approval of a Tourism Master Plan for the City in late 2020 will begin execution in 2021 to a limited degree given the current COVID tourism landscape. New tourism wayfinding signage will be the focus along with prioritizing other action items that can help the local tourism industry with their COVID-19 recovery.
2019 Performance: 78.2%
Barrie's employment grew 35 percent from 2003 to 2019, according to Statistics Canada
The Economic and Creative Development Department has been actively partnering with the County of Simcoe on multiple initiatives to address skilled labour needs in Barrie and the broader surrounding area. Specifically, the County of Simcoe and the City of Barrie have partnered with CTV Barrie on an exciting series called “Central Ontario Job Works” to promote local companies and highlight employment opportunities in Central Ontario. This series features a “behind the scenes” look into local key industries, highlighting success stories and serving as a resource for job seekers and employers in the area. This initiative is part of a larger contingent of initiatives aimed at building a funnel of skilled talent to support local employers and matching job seekers to employment opportunities, including full-time.
In response to company visits conducted as part of the Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program, and the identified need of local manufacturers for talent, the Business Development Department delivered a Manufacturing Job Fair on June 19th at the Holly Recreation Centre. Eighteen local manufacturers were in attendance seeking qualified candidates for a variety of opportunities, many full-time employment opportunities. The event was overall well received with 271 job seekers attending. 100% of the employers that participated were satisfied with the event and are interested in participating in future events with all employers receiving applications from qualified candidates.
Economic and Creative Development and its counterparts at the County of Simcoe and City of Orillia, along with Georgian College, School Boards and industry leaders in manufacturing have been meeting to explore and develop tools/opportunities to grow the awareness, perception and opportunities in manufacturing both inside and outside the community.
ECD also continues to work with Sandbox in championing their programming including delivering the first Trade Accelerator Program to 14 local businesses, and Intellectual Property program development through Osgoode Law. Providing tools that support local business growth, drives growth in employment in the City.
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