Friday, 25 November 2011

Elgin County Conference Series Focused on Helping Small Business

Elgin County’s Economic Development Department focused on helping small business in the third installment of the Elgin County Conference Series.

Doing Business with the Government was held on November 23rd, 2011 and featured eight speakers, addressing topics ranging from the procurement process to government funding. This one-day seminar showcased business and funding opportunities available to small businesses through all levels of government.

“This conference series demonstrates the County’s commitment to supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Alan Smith, General Manager of Economic Development for the County. “We will continue to offer valuable business development programming to serve the needs of Elgin’s business community.”

This seminar gave small businesses in Elgin County an opportunity to learn about the process of doing business with the government and how to apply for funding at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Topics presented included: the funding application process, funding availability, procurement and purchasing processes, and accessing the market for agricultural producers. Dynamic keynote presentations were delivered by speakers ranging from successful business owners to ministry representatives. 

Click HERE to view guest speaker presentations.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Festival and Event Program Generates Economic Impact

Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism has provided three separate contributions of $2000 to support local festivals and events.

The County of Elgin and City of St. Thomas encourage groups to celebrate the area’s unique culture by holding special festivals and events in the County and City. In support of this goal, the Community Festival and Event Partnership Program (CFEPP) offered contributions to community groups that take it upon themselves to organize festivals and events that are economic drivers for the community.

Successful applications for 2011 included: Port Stanley CanFest, The Elgin County Railway Museum’s Railway Nostalgia Weekend, and Culture Days at the Arts & Cookery Bank. Applicants selected best met the Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism Marketing Plan goals of increasing the number of people that visit the area, increasing the duration of their stay, and increasing the money that they spend while in Elgin-St. Thomas. Using the Province’s Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model, the County’s Economic Development Department determined that the supported events had a total economic impact of $595,677 for the Elgin and St. Thomas economy.

"Support for these type of festivals and events is extremely important," said Economic Development General Manager Alan Smith, "They generate significant economic gains by attracting visitors from outside the area who spend their dollars in Elgin and St. Thomas."

The Community Festival and Event Partnership Program has successfully been in operation for two years and Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism hopes to offer the program again in 2012.

(Photo:  Alan Smith General Manager Elgin County Economic Development, Carol Gates, Port Stanley CanFest, Sarah VanEngelen, Culture Days at The Arts & Cookery Bank, St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman Absent from photo:Michael Adams, Railway Nostalgia Weekend)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Elgin County Conference Series Presents: Doing Business with the Government

Economic Development is pleased to present the third installment of the Elgin County Conference Series, Doing Business with the Government on November 23rd, 2011. This one-day seminar will give small businesses in Elgin County the opportunity to learn about the process of doing business with the government and applying for funding at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Topics presented will include: the funding application process, funding availability, procurement and purchasing processes, and accessing the market for agricultural producers. Dynamic keynote presentations will be delivered by speakers ranging from successful business owners to ministry representatives.

Guest speakers:

Menelaos Argiropoulos, Federal Senior Procurement Consultant Stakeholder Outreach
Topic: The Federal Procurement Process

Kevin Fox, Provincial Senior Procurement Consultant Stakeholder Outreach
Topic: The Provincial Procurement Process

Sonia Beavers, Purchasing Coordinator, The County of Elgin
Topic: The Municipal Procurement Process

Grace McGartland, Chair of The Arts & Cookery Bank
Topic: Success Story: Accessing Government Funding

The Elgin Business Resource Centre
Topic: Government Funding

Dr. John Kelly, Vice President of Erie Innovation and Commercialization
Art Lawson, General Manager of SCOR EDC
Topic: Accessing the market place for Agricultural Producers

The registration fee for the seminar is $30 and includes a continental breakfast, a lunch and refreshments. For more information on Doing Business with the Government or to register please call (519) 631-1460 ext. 168 or visit:


Monday, 3 October 2011

Elgin Arts Trail Launched: Tour Promotes Local Art Attractions

The new Elgin Arts Trail that launched Thursday Sept 29th, invites visitors to discover the unique artistic treasures in Elgin-St. Thomas.

The trail was kicked-off by Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism at the Public Art Centre where Elgin County Warden Dave Mennill, St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman and Elgin Business Resource Centre General Manager John Regan were on hand to support the program partnership.

"The trail will have a far-reaching effect," said Mennill. "And it will bolster tourism and business development."

Jackson-Chapman also congratulated participants for their "artistry and creativity."
The trail is a route through Elgin and St. Thomas that invites visitors to discover the exemplary visual arts attractions of the area. The program is supported by a comprehensive guide book, detailed website and signage.

Visitors to the launch toured a miniature replica of the trail that included displays from all 12 Elgin Arts Trail members.

"We look forward to a successful first year," said the County’s Tourism Development Coordinator Kathryn Russell. "The trail will serve as an economic generator for the tourism industry as well as raise the profile of local visual art attractions."

The trail guide book is available at Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism and at all participating trail locations. For more information, please visit:

(Elgin County Warden Dave Mennill, Elgin Business Resource Centre General Manager John Regan, St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman)

Friday, 23 September 2011

Doors Open Across Elgin and St. Thomas This Fall

Over the next two weekends Elgin County and St. Thomas heritage sites and public venues will throw open their doors to public visitors.

2011 marks the 10th anniversary of Doors Open Ontario, and each year the event gets bigger and better. From April to October each year residents and visitors to Ontario are invited to explore the province's hidden treasures, some of which have never been open to the public before.

Doors Open events in Elgin and St. Thomas will allow visitors unique opportunities to tour everything from wineries, breweries, historic railway locations, natural conservation sites, heritage homes, churches and businesses, to fire stations, museums, agri-tourism operations, art galleries and community centres.

Doors Open East Elgin includes locations across the Municipality of Bayham, the Township of Malahide and the Town of Aylmer. September 24th, 2011

Doors Open Port Stanley & Sparta gives visitor the opportunity to tour interesting locations within the historic Quaker village of Sparta as well as the bustling port-side village of Port Stanley. October 1st, 2011.

Doors Open St. Thomas takes visitors back in time to when the Railway was the City's driving economic force. October 1-2, 2011.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Savour Elgin Receives International Recognition!

(Business Development Coordinator Kate Burns, Elgin County Warden Dave Mennill)
TORONTO, ON – The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) has presented Elgin County with two awards in recognition of its excellent marketing materials for promoting culinary tourism throughout the County.

IEDC Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. The awards are presented at the IEDC Annual Conference and this year Elgin County received an award for their Savour Elgin Culinary Guide and the Savour Elgin website,
Culinary tourism is a growing industry and with many consumers choosing to vacation locally, the culinary tourism industry is in the perfect position to take advantage of this trend. The Savour Elgin Culinary Guide and website have been available for a year, with the assistance of a dedicated Steering Committee and Yfactor. These materials efficiently and effectively market Elgin County’s restaurants, agri-tourism operations, farmers markets and wineries and breweries.

The Culinary Guide is a portable information source designed to fit in a purse or glove box of a car. The Guide features all members of the Savour Elgin program with original photography and a personal story behind each business, allowing visitors to get to know the people and places they might visit. Some businesses have also included recipes and ingredient lists of their specialized dishes for people to make at home.

The Savour Elgin website gives visitors a taste of what they’ll experience in Elgin County. The website features each member of the Savour Elgin program and it also incorporates the Tourism Ytool which makes it easy for website visitors to find out about events, restaurants or hotels and to quickly create individual itineraries for their upcoming visit to Elgin County. Interactive maps make locating the destinations effortless for prospective tourists.

These are the third and fourth awards that have been presented to Elgin for their Savour Elgin program. Warden Mennill noted, "We have exceeded our expectations with this program, and are thrilled with the results. Through our proactive approach to marketing we have created excellent materials for visitors who come to Elgin County and hopefully the Culinary Guide and website makes their trips more informative and enjoyable."

Friday, 16 September 2011

Exciting New Direction for Elgin County

Elgin County Council has approved a new Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-2014.

This four year strategy takes the County’s identified economic strengths and provides a new direction in the context of the creative rural economy.

Developing talent and innovation is the basis for this strategy that focuses on creative people and knowledge as economic generators. Supporting entrepreneurs and small business is of primary importance as is promoting Elgin County’s available employment lands. This strategy will tell Elgin’s story, celebrating and promoting quality of place in a way that will attract and retain talented and innovative businesses and residents.

"We’re really excited about this new phase." says Economic Development General Manager Alan Smith, "The role of the department will remain the same, to foster and help create an environment that supports the growth of the economy and prosperity for Elgin’s businesses and residents."

Click here for a copy of the New Economic Development Strategy & Action Plan 2011-2014

Friday, 2 September 2011

Celebrate Ontario 2012 is now open for applications!

Celebrate Ontario is an annual program that helps new and existing festivals and events enhance their programs, activities and services. The program also supports bid and event hosting costs of major one-time events and festivals attracting out-of-province visitors through the Blockbuster category.

This support helps grow tourism in the province by making it easier for event organizers to offer new and improved experiences that will attract more tourists and increase visitor spending.

All organizers of festivals and events are invited to apply. For full details, including what's eligible, how to apply, and when to apply are on the Ministry of Tourism and Culture's website at:

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Employment help available in Port Stanley

Katelyn Caughell, an employment counsellor for Employment Services Elgin will now be making visits to Port Stanley three days a week. Katelyn will conduct her employment counselling sessions Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am - 5:30pm at the Port Stanley Library.  Help is available for those who are looking for full-time, part-time and casual employment and Katelyn is a valuable resource for information on programs and workships that are available through Employment Services Elgin. Help with cover letters, resumes and interviews is also available.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Exciting Opportunity for Youth Entrepreneurs in Elgin & St. Thomas

The Year of the Entrepreneur continues as the Elgin Business Resource Centre reaches out to unemployed and under-employed youth through the Youth Entrepreneurship Partnership (YEP). The program recenly received $57,680 of funding through the Ministry of Economic Development & Trade. Elgin County Economic Development is a proud supporter of this project that is focused on youth who are under the age of 29 but who are not in school.

Youth from St. Thomas and Elgin County will have the opportunity to discuss their business ideas through meetings organized in local communities. Staff from the Elgin Business Resource Centre will help hundreds of youth to develop business plans and launch their businesses. The goal is to see 18 businesses started in the first year. If the program is successful, the Elgin Business Resource Centre will have the opportunity to apply for a second year of funding to continue to support youth in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

For more information about YEP please click here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Savour Elgin Comes to Fanshawe College!

Savour Elgin, Elgin County's popular culinary trail is proud to be a part of Fanshawe College's launch of its inagural Summer School of the Arts Program!

This program is designed for adult students and offers photography, watercolour, creative writing, performance & dance and culinary workshops. The workshops are for beginners, hobbyists and enthusiasts and offer an enjoyable and educational experience.

Culinary Adventure- Savour Elgin a Taste Experience is a one day workshop that will take participants on a route that visits the best culinary attractions that Elgin-St. Thomas has to offer! Read the workshop description below and follow this link to sign up:

Culinary Adventure- Savour Elgin a Taste Experience

Culinary Adventure - Savour Elgin a Taste Experience

Course Code: FDMG - 9181 I

 Join us for this one day adventure tour to sample some of Elgin County. The Savour
Elgin trail is a route through Elgin County that visits some of the best restaurants,
farms, wineries, and other culinary attractions that focus on food and drink that’s
local and unique to Elgin County and St. Thomas. Board the bus and we will guide
you to a Lavender Farm where you can stroll through the lavender fields and gardens,
experience and taste the wonders of lavender, take a Bee-Line tour at Clovermead
Apiaries to learn about the importance of bees and honey production to our daily lives,
have a home-made lunch at Pinecroft Studio and Green Frog Tea Room, check out the
pottery and the wonderful surroundings; wander through the vineyards at Quai du
Vin, Elgin’s oldest winery, talk to the winemaker, taste the wines and experience wine
pairing. The bus will depart from Fanshawe College London at 8:30 am. Pick up also
available at the Fanshawe St. Thomas Campus (approx. 9am). Price includes admission,
bussing and tasting. Fee for Lunch to be paid by participant to allow for individual

Fee: $99 + HST

60LC Wed July 13 8:30 am - 5:30 pm

Monday, 27 June 2011

Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs opens in Elgin-St. Thomas

The doors are now open at ICE, the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs! ICE is a 5,500 square foot facility and is St. Thomas and Elgin County's first mixed-use business incubator. ICE's incubation program will allow client businesses to better compete in the marketplace and will increase the the likelihood that their business will succeed.

Elgin County Economic Development, the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation and the Elgin Business Resource Centre were founding members of the this project. It had long been apparent that there was a need for this type of facility in Elgin and St. Thomas and ICE has received more than 40 applications from prospective clients to date!

The official opening of ICE comes as the Canadian Government recognizes 2011 as the Year of the Entrepreneur, which highlights the important role that small and medium-sized businesses will play in the future of the Canadian economy.

For more information about ICE, Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs please visit:

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Rush Creek Wines Wins Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence!

Savour Elgin member and on-farm innovator, Rush Creek Wines Ltd. has won a Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. This award recognizes Ontario's local farmers who are developing innovative ideas, driving local economies and strengthening the agri-food industry. Ontario's agri-food sector is one of the province's leading industries, contributing more than $33 billion annually to the economy and between 2007 and 2011 the program has had over 900 applicants. In 2010 over 200 applications were recieved and 55 winners were selected.

Rush Creek Wines was honoured for its best selling wine Decadence - a delightful combination of chocolate and strawberries. Decadence has inspired a wine jelly, body cream, body sugar scrub, and body spritzer creating jobs, increasing tourism dollars and giving business to local honey, fruit and chocolate producers.

Below: Rush Creek Wines owners Wendy and Kim Flintoff, with Elgin County Warden Dave Mennill accept their award.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Welcome to Experience Elgin

Welcome to Experience Elgin, where Elgin County Economic Development & Tourism will update you on the programs, initiatives, and events happening in Elgin County. This blog will focus on stories relating to activities in our key sectors of Energy and the Environment, Agribusiness, Manufacturing, Tourism and the Creative Economy.

Check back here for regular updates!