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Norfolk County
Economic Development
185 Robinson St, Ste 200, Simcoe, ON N3Y 5L6 Canada
Phone: 519-426-9497
Toll Free: 1-800-699-9038


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Development News – November 9, 2017

The latest edition of Norfolk County Development News email has been published and is on its way to subscribers.

Latest headlines:

  • $114 million in construction in Q1-Q3
  • Save the date for Symposium Jan 31, 2018
  • Highest household income growth in Southwestern Ontario
  • Major daily newspapers feature Norfolk County
  • Chamber of Commerce and BIA come together
  • Hazelnut farming supported by government
  • Student Start Up Program wins national award

Rural Ontario Leaders Awards

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has launched a new Rural Ontario Leaders Awards program to help celebrate the achievements of those who are dedicated to helping improve the quality of life and economic development of rural Ontario. The awards program will recognize and celebrate rural residents, communities, regions, and businesses, who demonstrate leadership in building a stronger rural Ontario.

The deadline for applications to the Rural Ontario Leaders Awards Program is being extended through to end of day Wednesday November 15, 2017.

Program guidelines and applications can be found on the OMAFRA website

Fox Seeds expands its global reach

Fox Seeds Inc., based in Norfolk County, is continuing to expand its global reach in asparagus seed production and sales.
Trials are now underway in the U.K., Poland, Germany, northern Spain, Portugal and Russia, according to Norfolk Farms newspaper.
The asparagus variety Guelph Eclipse, developed at the University of Guelph Simcoe Research Station in Norfolk County, will be available for a second year in 2018. In 2020, the Guelph Equinox variety will be released.
“Grower trials look extremely promising and growers are excited about what might be ‘the next best thing’ with yields in some trials almost double that of Guelph Millenium [variety]”, said Bernie Solymar, executive director of Fox Seeds.

Farm Credit Canada launches FCC Vision

FCC Vision, our national agriculture research panel, is looking for new members to help shape the future of agriculture. This is your chance to share your ideas and opinions about Canadian agriculture and how FCC can serve our exciting, growing industry.

You don’t have to be an FCC customer to join Vision. Vision panelists come from all levels of production, agribusiness and agri-food, ag studies or have a business associated with agriculture.

Get rewarded for your time

Participate in one to two surveys a month and earn Vision Reward Points – points you can redeem for gift cards. We’ll share these survey results so you’re always in-the-know.

Ready to be heard, get involved and influence change?

More info at

Tourism industry survey underway

Tourism businesses across Norfolk County and Ontario’s Southwest are being surveyed about their 2017 tourist season.

The survey is an annual initiative organized by the regional tourism organization in cooperation with the ten destination marketing organizations at the local level.

The following businesses and organizations are encouraged to take the survey: Accommodations, attractions, campgrounds, music venues, theatres, family entertainment, events, festivals, galleries, growers, historic sites, museums, outdoor recreation, indoor recreation, retail stores, farm markets, restaurants, sports, tour companies, transportation, visitor centres, wineries and breweries.

Simcoe Chamber comes together with Downtown Simcoe BIA

A new General Manager has been named for the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce (SDCC). Jim McGimpsey, the General Manager for the Downtown Simcoe BIA (Business Improvement Area), will take over operation of both organizations.

Jim McGimpsey

Jim McGimpsey

McGimpsey will take over the reins from long time Chamber of Commerce General Manager Yvonne DiPietro who has announced her retirement following nearly 30 years of loyal and dedicated service to the Chamber and the Simcoe business community.

“Sharing services makes sense on many levels,” explains Meika Matthews, incoming President for the Chamber. “We recognize the synergies this agreement creates for both of our organizations. We also believe coming together will demonstrate the commitment we collectively have made to better serve our members and the business community.”
The search to replace Yvonne began in mid 2017. During this time Board members from both organizations met to explore the potential of a shared service agreement that would effectively unite both organizations supported by one staff complement.

“This is an historic opportunity to bring together the hopes and aspirations of our local business community under the leadership of one Manager. This model offers the promise of a stronger voice for business which will lead to meaningful, positive change in Simcoe,” says Jim Carroll, Chair of the Downtown Simcoe BIA. “Jim McGimpsey has done an excellent job and our Board fully supports this opportunity.”

“I am thrilled by this new challenge,” says Jim McGimpsey. “It’s an honour I won’t take lightly. Simcoe is where I live. I care about this community and its success. This role affords me the opportunity to strengthen the leadership position both organizations have in our community.”

McGimpsey brings a track record of success in past ventures. His experience working with private business and municipal government makes him ideally suited for this new position.

The Chamber and the BIA share the common goals of strengthening relationships, increasing relevancy in the community, delivering more value to members and contributing to the economic growth of Simcoe & Norfolk. The Chamber believes focusing attention on downtown revitalization is critical for the future of Simcoe and Norfolk County. “Helping bring attention to the challenges our downtown faces is a priority we all support,” says Kirby Shieck, a director on the Chamber board.

“SSUP Norfolk” – Norfolk County’s Student Startup Program wins National Award

At the 2017 Canada Marketing Awards held by the Economic Development Association of Canada (EDAC), Norfolk County’s Student Start Up Program “SSUP Norfolk” took top honours as the Best Promotion Event for 2017.

Norfolk County Sponsors, Council and Staff have and continue to spur on the entrepreneurs in grades 6 to 12 resulting in national attention in entrepreneurship, education, and leadership of students, while building on Norfolk County pride. Ambition and progressive action as outlined in the Norfolk County Corporate Strategic Plan regarding youth is of prime importance to the program’s success.

This year Norfolk County received 188 applications from students from grades 6 to 12 and awarded 94 student start ups, some of which were partnerships assisting over 100 students. Successful applicants were awarded $200 to start their business. Students were encouraged to use the support and mentorship of our generous sponsors and Norfolk County to enhance their business and maximize their experience.

In just two years, Norfolk County has seen over 270 applications resulting in 158 new business start-ups through the “SSUP Norfolk” program alone. Some students have started their businesses without the program, demonstrating that the entrepreneurial spirit and drive is alive and growing in Norfolk County. (See Attached student businesses for 2017)

This award follows the 2016 win by “SSUP Norfolk” as Best Public-Private Partnership in Ontario by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, EDCO.

At the end of August students were to submit an analysis of their efforts to receive an additional award of $100.

SSUP Norfolk was made possible by the generous sponsors and support listed below.

“Norfolk County can proudly boast that Entrepreneurs Grow Here”, said Jerry Sucharyna, Economic Development Analyst for Norfolk County’s Tourism and Economic Development Division.

For more information about SSUP Norfolk visit

2017 “SSUP Norfolk” Sponsors:

Local Government Sponsor

Norfolk County

5-Star Sponsors

Annex Media
Libro Credit Union
MHN Lawyers
Ross & McBride LLP
Simcoe Lions Club
Staples Simcoe
Titan Trailers
Van Amerongen & Son
Venture Norfolk

3-Star Sponsors

Cowan Insurance
Rassaun Services, Inc.
South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corp.
Southwestern Ontario Tourism Corp.
Toyotetsu Canada Inc.

1-Star Sponsors

The Beach House Restaurant
Cowan Insurance
CarStar Collision Services
Creative Design Ink
Harvey’s / Swiss Chalet
Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show
Norfolk Rotaract Club
Picard Foods


Attaboy Window Washing
Long Point Eco-Adventures
Simcoe Reformer
Whistling Gardens


Haldimand County Economic Development & Tourism
Grand Erie Business Center

Student Start Up program Norfolk SSUP

Construction boom continues in Norfolk County

First nine months of 2017 outperform all of last year

Construction activity in Norfolk County in the first nine months of 2017 has outperformed all twelve months of last year, according to the municipality’s Building Division.

Norfolk County Building officials have processed building permits with a total value in excess of $114 million in the period of January to September 2017, up 60% compared to same period in 2016, when $71 million in building permits were processed.

New housing starts are up significantly with 323 new dwellings constructed as of September 30th. It is likely that this number will exceed 400 by the end of 2017.

The increases are represented in all sectors of the economy:

  • Residential up 37% to $73 million
  • Agricultural up 176% to $17 million
  • Industrial up 165% to $15 million
  • Commercial up 145% to $4 million
  • Institutional up 14% to $2.4 million
  • Other at no increase to $2 million

“I have spoken to other builders in addition to the members of the Haldimand Norfolk Homebuilders Association and we all think that Norfolk County has improved their building permit review process,” said Brian Bunting, President of Prominent Homes. “We are all very happy with the review period taking up to 10 business days or sooner in some cases. Thank you very much for your management to improve the building permit review process.”

“With the support of our homebuilders and local developers, Norfolk County Council recognized the need to augment resources in the Building Division to immediately respond to the significant increase in local development,” said Christopher Baird, General Manager of Development and Cultural Services for Norfolk County. “The results are clearly being observed and appreciated by our local industry.”

This is the third year in a row that each year has outperformed the previous year’s construction activity.

For more information about the Norfolk County Building Division, go to or call 519-426-4377.
Building Chart

Launch of hazelnut farming supported by federal government

The federal government has just announced an almost half million dollar investment in Ontario’s budding hazelnut crop, according to MediaPro’s Norfolk Farms newspaper.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said the Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) will get $492,052 to develop orchard management practices to enhance early development of hazelnut trees, develop strategies to mitigate drought stress and establish production techniques to multiply hazelnut plants for commercial use.    

Hazelnuts are touted to be a high value, large acreage crop which will create new economic opportunities for rural communities in Ontario.

“The impact (of the federal investment) will be huge,” said Linda Grimo, chair of the OHA.

Grimo said the Ontario hazelnut industry is still in its infancy, but its potential is “unlimited.” She said the federal government’s involvement will encourage farmers to grow the crop.

“Growers will be the bed rock of the industry,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Currently, there are about 400 acres planted in Ontario with a target of about 23,000 acres  based largely on the needs of Brantford-based Ferrero Canada, the largest processor of hazelnurs.

“We’re fortunate to work with Ferrero,” Grimo said. “They’re tremendous partners.”

Barb Yates, senior agronomist with Ferrero, said the federal funding will be applied over a two-year period to look at the economic cost of production of hazelnuts and research into micro-propagation to maximize the number of clonal trees.

In a press release, MacAulay said the federal government is committed to a strong food processing sector as a driver of jobs and prosperity.

Grimo also cited Dr  Adam Dale, professor emeritus of the University of Guelph’s Simcoe Research Station, who first envisioned hazelnuts as a valuable crop  about 10 years ago.

“No one has done so much,” Grimo said, citing Dale’s research and connections in shaping the industry.

The OHA will be stepping up its grower recruitment over the next few months. A symposium is planned for March 27, 2018, likely in London, where prospective new growers can access all the current information available.

Andrew Nixon, project manager for OHA, said the development of hazelnuts from a specialty crop to become a major commodity is unique.

Nixon said the involvement of the federal government “validates” the research and agronomic and economic analysis already done over the past eight years.

He said the OHA, formed in 2013, is representative of the entire value chain.

“We need everyone to work together.” Nixon said. “Interest is high  and keeps growing as we continue to build.”

“It’s an exciting time,” Grimo said.



Major daily newspapers feature Norfolk County

The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, two of Canada’s leading newspaper media outlets, recently featured stories about Norfolk County, with a focus on agriculture and agritourism.

Increased reliance on offshore labour was the focus of an article by Jennifer Wells in the Toronto Star (October 6, 2017). Titled “Why Canada’s farm industry is ripe for change” to story featured information about the important role of temporary foreign workers.

“Norfolk County, which markets itself as Ontario’s Garden, employs the highest number of seasonal or temporary workers, at 6,493 in 2016. Without seasonal workers, the farming community insists, there would be no reliable source of labour.”

Norfolk County’s renaissance as an agitourism hub was the focus of an article by Ron Johnson in The Globe and Mail (October 11, 2017). Titled “Tobacco country gets a makeover”, the story featured quotes from farmers and winery owners.

“Norfolk is also beginning to offer something else: the opportunity for food-savvy southern Ontarians to spend the weekend in pretty farm country on an organized local food, wine, beer or cider tour, or cycling between farms and restaurants before glamping on the shores of Lake Erie. In other words, agritourism.”