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Innovation, Creativity and Economic Development

By Rhonda Keenan
a carbon fiber machine

The United Nations has designated April 21 as World Creativity and Innovation Day. As the Peterborough & the Kawarthas’ economy begins its herculean effort to recover from the global pandemic, it is important to look at how innovation and creativity will factor into the success of economic development for this region, just as it has throughout its history.

Throughout this past year, businesses used every ounce of their creativity to remodel their business plans, build safer spaces to work in, engage their staff, created new products, and deployed innovative ways of delivering their products and services to their clients. This type of creativity is needed to continue to transform and rebuild the next economy for this region.

Innovation is defined as the creation, development and implementation of a new product, process, or service, with the aim of improving efficiency, effectiveness, or competitive advantage. Peterborough & the Kawarthas has been leading innovation for well over a century. Being one of the first communities to begin using hydro-electric power in Ontario, led to international companies such as Edison General Electric Company and America Cereal Company to locate to this region and with it, thousands of well-paying jobs that defined this region for over 150 years. Red Fife Wheat was another example of risk and innovation that was successfully implemented in Peterborough & the Kawarthas and is still successful today.

It is safe to assume that the next generation of economic development will require the same commitment to embrace innovation and creativity that we did in the 1850s, and not just to get through COVID-19. It is important that this community support and celebrates the new companies that are just getting started and have the potential to lead us into the future. Economic Development partners such as the Innovation Cluster are great assets in this community that are solely focused on helping new entrepreneurs test and validate their new technology and help them get ready for the competitive and gruelling marketplace. We will need more of these companies starting as we recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Economic Development is all about building and creating an environment where business can be supported and thrive. In Peterborough & the Kawarthas, we have created an ecosystem that allows for creativity and innovation in our businesses and business community. Our businesses need to be nurtured, supported, and developed; and on World Creativity and Innovation Day, we should look forward to the next wave of business greats in this region.

Rhonda Keenan

What’s Happening with Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development

Highlights of Q1 2021

Notable activities that advanced objectives of PKED’s Future Ready Economic Development Strategy in Q1 2021 included:

  • There have been 386 interactions with local companies in the first quarter of 2021
  • Tourism Resiliency Project. In Q1, PKED was able to provide funding to 49 local businesses ranging from $2,500 up to $20,000
  • Q1 saw the Winter Intake for Starter Company Plus with 12 Companies with 6 Grant winners announced on March 22, 2021
  • Throughout the first quarter of 2021, PKED continued to reach out to its key markets through the Small Business Newsletter and Tourism Business Bulletin each month
  • Promoting the Small Business Centres Ontario programming to promote free e-learning sessions in support of small business
  • Pushing the Workforce Development Board Worker Impact Survey to hear from people looking to re-enter the workforce
  • Promoting Summer Company Applications opening
  • Promoting virtual future travel planning services offered through Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism (live chat, Dream Book)

Looking ahead to Q2 2021

Notable activities that will advance objectives of PKED’s Future Ready Economic Development Strategy in Q2 2021 include:

  • A series has been developed highlighting the graduating companies from the BAC Starter Company Plus program
  • PKED, with support from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and the Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) completed the development of a three-year culinary tourism strategy, as part of the national project, Elevating Canadian Experiences, with a focus on Winter and Shoulder-Season development
  • PKED is participating on a number of workforce development initiatives and committees to address the shortage in skills. Reskilling and upskilling programming will need to be created, to address these skill shortages
  • Additional local workforce research is underway and will be shared in future PKED Quarterly Reports
  • Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Future Ready Business Summit
  • Manufacturing Career Fair
  • International Economic Development Week and Tourism Week in Canada