ConnectON is a tool that has been built by the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA) in partnership with by Economic Development staff at the municipal level. Municipal business data is supplemented with provincial and other data sources to provide a comprehensive local and regional view of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. ConnectON gives staff in economic development, planning and policy access to accurate and current business data that can be used to guide investment, identify trends and emerging opportunities, as well as understand the impact of investments on a regional basis. The ability to see a regional view strengthens collaboration for large investments in a sector. ConnectON can also be used to support land use planning, policy and strategy development, and emergency preparedness and response.
In 2014, the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance identified agri-food asset mapping as an important tool to build a robust regional database to support growth, decision making and opportunity for the sector. With support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the project was further extended in May 2015 to include the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. In 2015, the Ontario East Economic Development Commission (OEEDC), in partnership with the GHFFA, expanded agri-food asset mapping into Eastern Ontario. This expansion has continued as the program grows across the province, adding system features and new asset sectors as it goes. Currently a tourism sector pilot is underway with our partners in Northern Ontario.
Standardizing the way that data is collected has been one of the key accomplishments of ConnectON. With staff input, value chains are identified and businesses are allocated a Canadian NAICS code. In this way, data can be compared and analyzed with confidence. Through a common data sharing agreement, municipal staff have password access to the mapping tools and and data base, which includes their data, regional data and data provided through partnerships with key regional and provincial organizations.
ConnectON is an asset mapping tool that supports economic development, investment, and growth in Ontario's agriculture and manufacturing sectors. For more information visit ConnectON.ca.