Through the Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) program, you can learn how to make your community a great place to do business.

The program helps you:

  • support local businesses so they can grow, create jobs and stay in your community
  • write and implement an action plan to foster business development, investment and job creation
  • collect business and market data to support economic development planning


The BR+E program is for rural communities in Ontario. Your organization is eligible if it’s a:

  • community or neighbourhood organization
  • municipal, county or regional government organization
  • chamber of commerce
  • business improvement association
  • tourism association
  • community futures development corporation

How to get started

Email us or call 1-877-424-1300.

We’ll assign a regional economic development advisor who will:

  • help you tailor the program to your community – based on the people, time and money you have available
  • train your team to successfully run the project
  • give you the tools you need – a step-by-step guide, sample surveys and access to research software

How it works

With your advisor’s guidance, you’ll run the program in your community.

The program happens in four stages and takes about two years to complete.

1. Prepare the groundwork

To lay the groundwork, you’ll answer a set of questions we provide to assess your community’s readiness. Then you’ll form a project team, plan the project, recruit and train volunteers.

2. Collect and analyze your findings

At this stage, you’ll work with the volunteers to conduct business interviews and identify immediate concerns and opportunities.

3. Develop goals and action plan

Then you’ll report your findings to your community, and use the insights to prepare an action plan that addresses your goals.

4. Implement plan and track progress

Finally, you put the plan in action. You’ll monitor progress and revise the plan as required to meet your goals.


In-person training

You will get two training sessions to learn how to:

  1. plan and run a BR+E project (first session)
  2. analyze and prepare a report (second session)

Coordinator’s manual

This manual has detailed instructions to help you complete the program. Fill out this form to get a copy of the BR+E coordinator’s manual.


We have a general BR+E survey you can use to interview local businesses. In addition, we have other surveys that allow you to focus on the needs of specific sectors (e.g. agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, mining, natural resources, downtown revitalization, local food)

Research software

We give you access and show you how to use research software to draft questionnaires, analyze survey responses and create reports.