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Future Ready: 2020-2024

The future of Peterborough & the Kawarthas lies in the region’s ability to adapt to world economic forces disrupted by technology as well as Canada’s demographic shifts.

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This strategy is centered on the following vision:

To be the most sustainable and innovative community and economy in Ontario.

The Opportunity

The global economy is transforming at an extraordinary pace. Technology and automation are disrupting everything from the way we work, to how we do business, how we live, and what we buy.

At the same time, business and entrepreneurs must recognize that technology – coupled with a demographic shift toward a growing and aging population – is changing what goods and services people and businesses want, and the way they are delivered.

In response, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development is embarking on a parallel period of significant change, so that together with our partners we can navigate the challenges of the future economy and leverage the opportunities it is presenting. We will bring together business, government, and education partners; residents and visitors; in order to fulfill a shared vision for a brighter economic future. It will be our mission over the next five years to draw on the richness of the natural, built and human assets of our remarkable region, as we shift our focus to sustainability and innovation, so that we can thrive together in an unpredictable world economy.

The Challenge

Growth in our population will add to the richness of the region and stimulate economic activity.

But population growth also brings increased demand for space, infrastructure, residences and employment. Pointing this growth in directions that will most benefit the economic well-being of most residents and businesses will be key. Working with our partners on a shared vision for our economic future focused on sustainability and innovation will ensure improved economic prosperity, social well-being and ecological integrity for the region.

Preparing for the Future

Innovation has been the backbone of the Peterborough economy dating back to Edison in the 1890s, with the Edison General Electric Company. Although, much has changed since that time, an industrious and innovative approach to business in Peterborough & the Kawarthas has not. Both Fleming College and Trent University are globally recognized for their excellence in research and innovation. Cleantech Commons at Trent University, the Centre for Advancement of Water and Wastewater Technologies and the Kawartha Trades & Technology Centre at Fleming College will be significant research and development drivers to create connections between academia and industry. Combining our research excellence with this region’s historic reputation as being hard-working, collaborative, and having an innovative spirit, has helped to grow several cutting-edge, technology-driven businesses in this region. This industrious approach and attitude will only continue to grow and transform the economy into the future.

Aligning Economic Development with Sustainable Development

As we consulted and listened to the people of Peterborough & the Kawarthas in order to develop our strategy to build a brighter future, it was reinforced that there is a holistic appreciation of the region and its value. What we heard confirmed for us that the people of our region have a high regard for the natural environment that they recognize adds so much to the regional beauty and quality of life. And an equally high regard for Indigenous Peoples who add to the region’s culture and heritage. At the same time, our region is valued for its promotion of clean technology, the strength in water-technologies, and the culture of entrepreneurship and social enterprise that are integrated into the regional fabric. Combined, these perceptions give us confidence that Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development and our partners have an opportunity to set the region apart by building an economic development strategy underpinned by the values of sustainable development.

UN Sustainability Goals Firmly in View

In a sustainable economy, people live and do business in ways that are good for the economy, the environment and communities. Business activity reflects a commitment to sustainability and, in turn, that leadership in sustainability helps the economy to thrive now and into the future. All who live in the region share in the benefits of the economic growth, and the foundation is set to allow future generations to see their needs fulfilled as well.

Sustainable development is about more than being green. The United Nations – a thought leader in sustainable development – identifies 17 principles for sustainable development in its transformative report 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Jurisdictions across the globe agree with those principles, and indeed began implementation of that agenda in 2016. Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development will have those sustainability goals firmly in view as we implement our plan over the next five years, specifically the five outlined here: Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Partnerships for the Goals.

4 quality education
8 decent work and economic growth
9 industry innovation and infrastructure
11 sustainable cities and communities
17 partnerships for the goals

Promote Peterborough & the Kawarthas as a Destination of Choice for Visitors, Business, Entrepreneurs, Investors and Students

With its breathtaking natural setting and strong economic potential, Peterborough & the Kawarthas is an attractive region for multiple stakeholder groups.

Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development intends to leverage this dual selling point of natural and built assets to attract the tourists, industry, innovators and high-skilled talent whose influence combines to create an irresistible place to live, work, invest, study and visit. We will grow prosperity, draw investment, create jobs and be equipped with a modern workforce that has the talent and transferable skills needed for the uncertain economy of the future.

By advancing a compelling narrative that showcases our region’s unique advantage, and carefully differentiating our region from others to strategic audiences, we will increase awareness of the region more broadly and identify new opportunities to attract more visitors, investment and jobs.

Action 1.1

Drawing on insights generated by detailed marketing research already underway, create a Pride-of-Place and Place-Making Strategy to help define a crisp, clear value proposition for the region that will resonate with all key audiences.

Action 1.2

Tell our story to the world, by delivering the multi-year, multi-media marketing strategy to targeted audiences to help us reach and engage audiences who will help us grow tourism, attract a talented worker pool and generate new business activity and investment.

Action 1.3

Develop a Strategic Ambassador Program – including a list of supportive influencers, key messages and collateral marketing materials – to expand our storytelling reach to new and larger audiences.

Action 1.4

Leverage our partnerships to greater effect by enhancing our External Communications Strategy with key stakeholders, providing them with the support they need so that they may help support our communications and marketing.

Action 1.5

Develop a multi-year Earned Media Strategy in order to leverage the benefit of third-party endorsements delivered through positive stories about our region in media outlets across Canada and beyond.

Leverage the Region’s Mix of Rural and Urban Assets and Business

Peterborough & the Kawarthas is unique in that it has a perfect blend of rural and urban assets, providing all the amenities of an urban center and having direct access to the countryside and cottage country. Synergy between the urban and rural economies is our unique selling proposition and competitive advantage. Our diverse business sector provides a wide range of opportunities for growth, but it also requires Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development to make strategic choices as it develops its business plan for supports and services that will have the greatest impact.

A recognized tourism destination, Peterborough & the Kawarthas’ economy has historically also been rooted in agriculture and manufacturing. The new economy has brought new sectors such as aerospace and clean technology to the forefront of economic activity, and these emerging sectors require municipal support through investments in infrastructure such as the Peterborough Airport, as well as programming that generates the necessary talent provided by our local post-secondary institutions, Trent University, Fleming College and Seneca College’s campus for aviation.

Action 2.1

Create an Investment Readiness Plan for the region that would include a catalogue of existing and potential industrial land and buildings as well as an always current assessment of the available talent pool based on analysis of educational programs that are in alignment with key sectors.

Action 2.2

Develop customized strategies to increase growth in each targeted sector, including Industry 4.0, Aerospace, Agriculture, Cleantech and Tourism. An inventory of assets, a gap and economic impact analysis, and a growth plan will be developed for each sector, while opportunities for new synergies would be explored as well.

Action 2.3

A Community Development Strategy will be created to identify new opportunities to city build with our partners by championing investments in infrastructure such as regional transportation and rural broadband, encouraging residential development, and providing input into municipal and provincial policies that have an impact on business.

Action 2.4

Help identify opportunities for and be an advocate for increased investment by our partners in technology, research and innovation across all sectors that will help solve city building problems, attract investment by industry and government, and generate the high-skilled workforce required for economic development.

Action 2.5

Embed a commitment into our business plan to gather ongoing intelligence and data on economic activity by existing business in our region – including business retention, expansion, and visitation – in order to inform our strategy to leverage those already participating in our regional economy to attract new growth.

Build A Job-Ready, Highly Skilled and Innovative Workforce of the Future

Successful industry is built on the ability to adapt, and respond to new consumer demands, new technologies and new techniques. Each plays a role in maintaining a business’s competitive advantage in its industry class. Today’s employees no longer expect to graduate into a job or career that will be maintained until retirement, and so a culture that is open to and encourages life-long learning is essential, so that workers can keep up with the economy and advance in their careers if they wish.

This strategic objective speaks to the need to fulfill requirements of the workplace in the new global economy as it changes and morphs in ways that we can’t always anticipate. 

We must work with our partners in industry and post-secondary education to build knowledge and capacity among those who supply the talent pipeline and generate economic growth by preparing for and participating in the workforce of today and tomorrow.

Action 3.1

Expand meaningful partnerships, with a focus on those between post-secondary institutions and industry, to ensure the continuous flow of a job-ready talent pipeline tailor made to help graduates, employees and employers thrive. Tactics to include an increased connection between business leaders and college and university students to help students make informed decisions in their educational and training options.

Action 3.2

Tap into existing job market data available from Statistics Canada, our partners in post-secondary education and other sources to regularly track, monitor and report on employment trends for each of our region’s key sectors, including employment demand and graduate job placement.

Action 3.3

Work with post-secondary institutions and employers to create a strategy to make staying in Peterborough and Kawarthas attractive to students and recent graduates, and to create tools to repatriate graduates back to the region, which will already be familiar to them.

Action 3.4

Be a recognized leader in sustainable innovation and education by leveraging our partnerships with Fleming College, Trent University, Cleantech Commons, the Centre for Advancement of Water and Wastewater Technologies and the Sustainable Peterborough organization.

Support All Phases of Entrepreneurship, While Also Supporting Existing Businesses

Peterborough & the Kawarthas is already known as a start-up community and success has been achieved for new businesses which chose to start in our region. It is also equally important to support business during its growth phase. Activities such as hiring a new staff person, moving to a brick and mortar building and expanding sales to new markets are all risky ventures.

Research shows that when entrepreneurs are provided with a team of support at all levels of their development, they are more likely to thrive and stay in the community. Peterborough & the Kawarthas has a rich history of entrepreneurs operating successfully in the region, and now there should be a concerted effort to ensure segments of the population such as First Nations, new Canadians, women, youth and Second Career workers are engaged, supported and empowered through entrepreneurship support as well.

Action 4.1

Create an integrated strategy, including supports across all stages of development and growth, to attract and support 100 new entrepreneurs by 2024 through activities of our Business Advisory Centre including new ventures education sessions, business fundamentals workshops and one-on-one consultations.

Action 4.2

Work with our partners to increase entrepreneurship opportunities among under-represented groups such as First Nations, new Canadians, women, and youth, in order to create individual and regional prosperity by including all available participants in the economy.

Action 4.3

Increase the business survival rate among new start-ups over their first five years by providing such services as hosted business summits and a thriving, supportive and accessible network of solopreneurs.

Action 4.4

Increase entrepreneurship opportunities for second career workers who have been negatively affected by layoffs and closures in their workplace.

Partnering Up

We recognize that meaningful economic development that benefits all isn’t possible unless we work co-operatively with our partners toward shared goals. Our five-year strategy was developed in consultation with our stakeholders and partners, and Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development will continue to collaborate in this way with our partners in the business community, post-secondary, networks related to our key industries, and clusters across the public and private sectors to meet our shared economic objectives for the region.

Through this plan, we also aim to strengthen relationships with Indigenous Peoples. We respectfully acknowledge that Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, and our partners are located on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and in the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations, and locally include Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations.

Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations enrich the fabric of our region. We also recognize that building strong cities depends on strong Indigenous communities.


The Board of Directors for Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development would like to thank the steering committee, business leaders, focus group attendees and community partners for their valuable assistance in developing this bold and collaborative five-year strategy.