Economic development areas of focus

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Knowledge-Based Business

The City of Ottawa exhibits a number of key assets that can be leveraged as focus areas for economic growth and diversification. These include the City being a national capital. Having the highest educated population per capita of any other major city in Canada, with four major post secondary institutions and government researchers, Ottawa has developed a very strong knowledge based industry sector.

The continued growth and diversification of knowledge based industries is a significant area of focus for growing and diversifying the City’s economy. As such, Knowledge-Based Business is one of the four pillars of the City’s Economic Development agenda.

Businesses in the knowledge-based sector offer high remuneration and provide longevity of jobs. Businesses in this category have numerous economic impacts on the local economy. They serve global, rather than just local, markets and therefore inject outside money into the Ottawa economy. In addition, these businesses often have extensive supplier networks and local purchasing resulting in further indirect economic impacts on the Ottawa economy.

Key elements of this sector include private knowledge based business, government related institutions and agencies that relate to and/or support knowledge based industries, the diplomatic community and NGO’s with their connections to international knowledge based industries, post secondary institutions, and hospitals.

Many of the initiatives set out in the City’s current Economic Development Strategy focus on strengthening and continued diversification of the City’s knowledge based industry ecosystems through continuing support with the City’s key economic development partners including Invest Ottawa (IO), Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards (ICBY), post secondary institutions (PSIs), and other business groups for innovation, entrepreneurships, investment attraction, talent attraction/retention and cluster development.

Invest Ottawa has the primary responsibility of serving knowledge-based businesses in Ottawa through venture development assistance and foreign market entry or growth.

Tourism and Creative Industries

The tourism and creative industries sectors in Ottawa are important economic drivers and contribute significantly to quality of life – an important economic indicator and key consideration for business and talent attraction and retention. Tourism is Ottawa’s third leading economic driver behind the federal government and technology. With a robust tourism product offering including numerous national attractions, Ottawa is well positioned to capitalize on a growing national and international visitor market interested in experiencing a four-season, G7 capital. In addition, further diversifying the local economy by encouraging and supporting the growth of creative industries such as music, film, television, animation, digital media, fine arts, etc., is an important priority that not only supports employment but also grows Ottawa’s reputation and profile around the world.

The following organizations are some of the partners assisting the City of Ottawa in delivering on the current Economic Development Strategy in support of tourism and creative industries:

  1. Ottawa Tourism is the lead agency engaged in destination marketing and destination development. Funded primarily through a Municipal Accommodation Tax, approved by City Council following Provincial enabling legislation in 2017, Ottawa Tourism promotes Ottawa and the National Capital Region as a destination for meetings and conventions, group tours and leisure travel. The Major Events Office at Ottawa Tourism, in collaboration with the City, prospects and bids on major sport and cultural events. The Destination Development Fund awards strategic funding in support of various initiatives related to tourism product development, research and economic impact studies, visitor experience and more.
  2. The Ottawa Film Office is responsible for marketing Ottawa externally as a film friendly city and encouraging the development of the local film, television and animation sector.
  3. The Ottawa Music Industry Coalition is a membership based, advocacy organization committed to supporting the growth of the local music industry. In 2018, City Council approved a three-year music strategy demonstrating recognition of the significance of this important industry to the quality of life in Ottawa.

Urban Services

Urban Services describes the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that form the backbone of economic activity within the city and includes several sectors such as retail, construction and services (legal, finance, insurance, real estate). Local residents and business rely on these sectors to support day-to-day business operations and provide the necessities of daily life. While SMEs are critical to the overall economic health of Ottawa, they do not necessarily drive the city’s economic growth. Rather, SMEs grow in response to the city’s growth ie. population, housing starts, transportation, etc. 

The continuing vitality of the city’s SMEs and main streets is an important economic development priority. The City of Ottawa collaborates with 19 Business Improvement Areas  (BIAs), the Board of Trade and RGA on various initiatives in support of small business. These organizations are primarily engaged in advocacy and outreach efforts with a view to raising the profile of SMEs and main streets, removing regulatory burden and supporting a business-friendly environment. In particular, the BIAs, through their individual efforts and collectively through the Ottawa Council of BIAs (OCoBIA), have been very effective in supporting the growth and vitality of their districts through advertising and promotion, special events, clean and safe programs, business attraction/retention/outreach and advocacy.

The City’s current Economic Development Strategy has identified the importance of aligning long range planning with economic development to set the stage for continued growth and development of the city in the future. In particular, this alignment is important to ensure that SMEs and main streets continue to flourish and to support thoughtful growth of both the city and its economy.                                 

Rural Economic Development

The City of Ottawa has long recognized that a thriving rural area is an important component of the local economy; as such, Rural Economic Development is one of the four pillars of the City’s Economic Development agenda.

The City places a strong emphasis on economic activities in Ottawa’s rural areas and the City’s Rural Affairs Office has the primary responsibility of serving rural Ottawa.

The role of the Rural Affairs Office:

  • To monitor and support issues affecting rural Ottawa.
  • To facilitate a productive relationship between the City and its rural citizens by assessing the impact of the City’s rural policies, by-laws and programs and negotiating change.
  • To establish links with provincial and federal governments.
  • Advocates for the rural perspective in accordance with City Council’s direction.

Economic Development Services, in concert with the City’s Transportation Policy and Networks Branch, developed 15 cycling routes across the city, with 10 of them in the city’s rural areas. Not only do these routes highlight great scenery in Ottawa’s rural areas, but they also connect tourists with rural businesses along these routes.

In addition, EDS will be undertaking a comprehensive research study to compile an accurate and updated profile of Ottawa rural, including its assets, strengths, opportunities, and aspirations. The research study will identify Ottawa’s rural strategic position and competitive advantages.

The results of the research study will inform an Action Plan and potential economic development initiatives for implementation in the rural Ottawa, the goal of which will be to support job growth and vitality in rural areas.

Report to Council

2016 Economic Development Strategy Implementation Update and 2017 Implementation Plan

This report provides an update on the strategy’s implementation progress to date as well as an overview of key initiatives and areas of focus that are proposed for the remaining term of Council.