Often a tool box begins with a few essential tools, like a hammer and a screwdriver. Through experience, time, effort and investment, more tools are added and eventually the tool box becomes better equipped for a diverse number of projects.
The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA), in partnership with the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO), was successful in a joint submission to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Rural Economic Development (RED) program, allowing us to expand our tool box.
The RED program funding supports economic development initiatives, and this project will enable us to continue to develop and expand our asset mapping tool box with more and enhanced tools. Ultimately, this project will support growing the agri-food cluster and economic development in rural Ontario.
Over the past 4 years, the GHFFA has led the development and implementation of Agri-Food Asset Mapping. Last year EDCO initiated a Manufacturing Asset Mapping project, which was modelled on many aspects of this Agri-Food Asset Mapping project; the opportunity and benefits of working together were evident.
The key elements of the project are to build on the existing system to support asset mapping for municipal economic development staff by integrating Agri-Food Asset Mapping and Manufacturing Asset Mapping into a central data base. Access to the tools and the data will be available through a web-based template. The enhancements to these tools has been leveraged from the work conducted over the past 4 years by the GHFFA. To sustain and support asset mapping, further project work includes developing a business model to determine funding requirements, governance, rules for accessing and using the system, managing processes and data sharing agreements. Ongoing communication on asset mapping activities and tips for using the tools and resources with current users and potential new users will also be established.
So what will those new and enhanced tools look like? The project will result in a web based asset mapping system that will provide municipal economic development staff (and others as designated) input and access to individual municipal data, regional views and mapping of agri-food and manufacturing assets.
Users will be able to query and analyze asset data at any time and from any place using their login access. Regional opportunities and collaboration will be encouraged.
Through this project, new and enhanced tools, long term sustainability and future growth for asset mapping will be possible.
Stay tuned for future updates!