Business Retention & Expansion Project

The economic well-being of Huron County is directly impacted by the successes and challenges facing Huron’s business community. In recognition of this, positive action is being taken by the County of Huron Economic Development department to identify and meet the needs of local businesses.

As a Huron County business owner, this is your opportunity to directly voice your needs and ideas to the County. The information collected in the BR&E surveying is vital for the County to continue making informed decisions, and help us take pro-active actions that will have positive and lasting benefits in our community.

Cole Nicholson

Business Retention & Expansion Coordinator


What is it?


Why it's needed?

Who leads it?


Past reports



What is the Huron BR&E Project?

The Huron County Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Project is a county-wide effort, supported by local BIAs, Chambers of Commerce, and others, that recognizes personal, confidential business surveys as a way to:

  1. Identify the needs, concerns, and opportunities of existing local businesses so that, where appropriate, action can be taken.
  2. Learn of the future plans of the area’s local businesses with respect to expansion, relocation, and/or retention and assess where assistance can be provided.
  3. Demonstrate the county’s pro-business attitude and develop an effective means of communication.

Think of the Huron County BR&E Project like a business census.

Surveys will be mailed to the business community starting at the beginning of June, and continuing through to the end of November 2021. Volunteers will reach out to businesses, via telephone, to provide assistance and support as needed.

A final project report that presents the high-level findings with action plan recommendations will be developed and made available following the data collection period and will be used to plan future economic development activities for Huron County.

Why Undertake a BR&E Project?

Existing businesses are already invested in the community

It’s important to leverage the fact that existing businesses are already established and invested in the community. Studies have shown that anywhere between 74% and 90% of new jobs within a community come from existing businesses. Furthermore, it is much easier and less expensive for a community to retain existing businesses than to attract new businesses to the community.

BR&E Projects can provide an early warning system

Businesses in every community close each year for a variety of reasons. This year it has only been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these closures could be averted if the businesses were connected with the existing support resources such as our Economic Development programs and services.

Who is Leading the Huron BR&E Project?

The project is led by the Huron County Economic Development department, along with guidance and support from a Project Task Force composed of the following members:

  • Paul Nichol, Community Futures Huron
  • Susan Carradine, Downtown Goderich BIA
  • Dave Tiffin, Blyth BIA
  • David Sparling, Wingham BIA
  • Laura Connolly, Exeter BIA
  • Sandy Garnet, Central Huron BIA
  • Rebecca Hawkins, Municipality of Bluewater
  • Carolyn Young, Libro Credit Union
  • Vicki Lass, OMAFRA

2021 BR&E Reports

In 2021, Huron County Economic Development completed a six month Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) survey process.  In total, 723 survey results were received that represent 21% of Huron’s business community.

Read the Reports:

Past BR&E Project Reports

There have been a number of Business Retention & Expansion Projects conducted in Huron County in the past, led by lower-tier municipalities. Each BR&E Project resulted in the development of action plans to address their findings and final project reports were created to present these action plans. See below for a list of downloadable links of final reports of past BR&E Project conducted in Huron County.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the benefit to the business to complete the survey?

This is your chance to voice your opinions and needs to the county and contribute to the development of county-led services and programs that will positively impact the local business community and economy. Think of it like a census of business for the county.

This is also your chance to request direct support from the Economic Development Team on urgent concerns or opportunities your business is facing. Often, businesses aren’t aware of the services that are available to them, and taking part in this project is a great way to learn about how these services can benefit you. If you’re facing a serious and urgent business concern or opportunities, please inform your Volunteer Surveyor or the Project Coordinator so they can take it back to the Economic Development Business Supports Team.

How long is the survey?

The main survey is approximately 85 questions long, though due to the logic and routing of the questions, you’ll likely answer between 45-65 questions.

How long will it take a business respondent to complete the survey?

The main survey can be completed in as little as 30 minutes.

Why is the survey so long?

To ensure sufficient data is captured through survey responses to influence the direction the county takes in determining future strategies and services to respond to the needs of existing businesses.

When is the deadline to complete and return the survey?

Business participants have until November, 2021 to complete and return their survey. However, businesses are encouraged to complete and return the survey as soon as they’re able to ensure the survey does not get lost or forgotten.

What happens with the completed surveys?

The Project Coordinator will compile the survey responses with other completed surveys, after which individual survey responses become completely anonymous.

For more information on the Ontario Business Retention & Expansion Program, visit the Government of Ontario website here:

How Can We Help?

Feel free to reach out to BR&E Coordinator, Cole Nicholson, with any questions!