Showing posts from May, 2012

Fastest growing (and shrinking) Southwestern Ontario communities

Just when I thought I was finished with census numbers...

The next batch of data from the 2011 census was released yesterday—populations across the country broken down by age and sex.

I filtered the data for communities in Southwestern Ontario (population of 5,000 or more) to see which were the fastest growing and declining since the last census in 2006. I had to do this manually, so it's possible that someplace got overlooked, but here are some graphs taken from that data, with an emphasis on what Statistics Canada calls working age—the 15 to 64 group.

For these lists, I included communities in Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, London-Middlesex, St. Thomas-Elgin, Stratford-St. Marys-Perth, Huron, Grey, Bruce, Oxford, Norfolk, Haldimand, Brant-Brantford, Waterloo Region, and Guelph-Wellington.

At the top of the list, it's a sweep for Waterloo Region with all four top spots, and Cambridge also making the top 10. Guelph is in the top ten, as are communities in Bruce (Saugeen…

Final census crunch: Immigrants and visible minorities in Southwestern Ontario

One last look at some census numbers for selected Southwestern Ontario regions (selected because—other than Waterloo—they comprised the area I was covering for the Ministry of Research and Innovation's Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) program), this time looking at immigrants and visible minorities and the concentration of each across these regions.

Much has been written about the vital role of immigrant entrepreneurs—particularly in Silicon Valley (for example, Vivek Wadhwa's "How the Indians Conquered Silicon Valley"). Within Southwestern Ontario, you'll find many regions looking to be more attractive to immigrants as part of an economic development strategy—in Chatham-Kent, for example, where it was mentioned just last week by mayor Randy Hope is his annual state-of-the-municipality-style adddress.

EcDev guru Richard Florida and his enthusiasts have been high profile proponents of the idea that the level of immigrants and visible minorities are either a com…

More census crunching: Income and housing expenses in Southwestern Ontario

A couple of more items from my round of census crunching. The last post discussed age and education, and this time I'll look at income and housing expenses. I'm not sure this has much effect on innovation support programs, but I found it interesting. It also reveals one other dimension in which the City of Waterloo is a clear outlier (along with being off-the-charts in university education and in the presence of residents in their 20s).

The median income for "married-couple families" (which I selected from the many different income categories only because it's one I fall into) shows a ranking that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, with the large urban areas—or regions including large urban areas—all grouped together at the high end of the range:

But while the order didn't surprise me, there were a couple things I hadn't expected. The first was just how much of an outlier the City of Waterloo is for income. It's not just ahead of the pac…

Education and age differences across Southwestern Ontario and implications for "innovation" support

One of my pet peeves over the last few years has been over-reliance on "macro" analyses, or as I call them, "people sitting in their offices playing around with spreadsheets crunching aggregated numbers downloaded from StatsCan and other sources with almost no understanding of the underlying components and drivers of those numbers and jumping to "conclusions" which say almost nothing that would be of any use in effecting change." I guess "macro" is a handier name. Just about all of the studies relating to productivity in Canada/Ontario fall into that category, and I've been happy to see lately that others are starting to express the same frustrations (Drummond Report, for example).

None of that stopped me recently from grabbing a bunch of census data from StatsCan and building my own spreadsheets, with the hope that the numbers might raise questions about how to support innovation in small urban and rural areas, particularly in Southwestern…

Adapting innovation programs to small urban and rural areas

Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, I got to spend five months over the fall and winter focused solely on bringing (and figuring out how to bring) Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) resources supporting the commercialization of innovation to small urban and rural parts of Southwestern Ontario—specifically, the region from Goderich to Simcoe, excluding the City of London.

I've lived in a small urban area in that region for over a year now and spent a lot of time over the last five years travelling across Southwestern Ontario. We'd actually lived in Waterloo for more than a decade before cluing in that there was a whole world around us that we'd never seen. We quickly made up for lost time.

Connecting innovation and productivity programs to the economic development priorities of Southwestern Ontario became a priority for me and the last thing I did before leaving TechAlliance was create a project to reach out to the small urb…

Moving ahead in London: New vision and leadership needed to fill the gaps

I had a great time in Waterloo on Friday, attending the rebirth of LaunchPad$50K, now run by the GTAN angel group, which means there are real investors on the judging panel (and in attendance) making actual investment decisions, the lack of which is always my first lament about most business pitch competitions.

"How are things in London?" was usually one of the first questions that came up as I bumped into a lot of old friends—this was my first time at a Waterloo event since moving to Strathroy—and that reminded me that I've never said anything here about my London experience.

I stepped down from my role at TechAlliance last November after 13 months. I was affiliated with the organization for a few more months—managing a project I had initiated that focused on small urban and rural areas in Southwestern Ontario (more about that in future posts)—but that wrapped up at the end of March.

The point I made repeatedly on Friday is that I didn't leave because of a lack of…

Path looks clear for the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund

Quick takeaways:
Looks like the Bill that creates the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund will passNo big changes in committee, although there will now be a standalone corporation managing the fundSWEA and Invest Ottawa were among the presenters at the public hearingsI like a lot of SWEA's vision for the fund, except its reliance on commercial lendersThat's sounding like the old Michelin Development fund in Waterloo Region, which may be an achievable model, but not one I'd prefer
We're down to the homestretch at the Ontario Legislature for Bill 11, the proposed legislation that would establish the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and continue the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. The NDP seem to be on board with the governing Liberals—and had the run of the place when the bill went to committee in April—while the PCs remain opposed. That means that, barring a late surprise, the bill should have enough votes to pass third reading [UPDATE: Had enough votes? Probabl…