This Ontario town pays companies to create jobs

Struggling to entice employers away from Toronto, a small town promises them huge sums to set up shop

This Ontario town pays companies to create jobs
How do you get companies to bring jobs to a small Canadian town?

Pay them, according to the Ontario town of Innisfil.

Its incentive program – paying up to $200,000 to each business – created more than 150 openings before the town ran out of cash for the plan, economic and community development officer Brennan Kenny told the Innisfil Journal.

Launched in May, the Community Improvement Plan offered incentives for new or existing businesses to add jobs to the town landscape. The smallest grant approved was $2,500; the largest was $160,000.

“We had over $1 million leveraged from the private sector. One of the requirements was to match the town, as a minimum.”

 “The match from the town was $100,000, generally through development charges and the rest came from the County of Simcoe where they mirror our program,” said Kenny.

 “A majority of the projects was retention or expansion, which wasn’t a surprise to us,” he said, adding that the businesses that got the grants were in retail, tourism service, office space and agriculture.

It had gained overwhelming attention through digital marketing, specifically through Facebook and Google, A total of 250,000 people viewed the ad, with 969 who left an email address and 134 leads.
Too soon, however, the program had to close.

“We had a really strong hook that could get people’s attention and bring them in to our advertising,” economic catalyst Dan Taylor said.

“We had to pause the campaign after six weeks and the reason is we ran out of hook, if you will. We didn’t have any more money to give out.”

Kenny said there is a waiting list for funds at the moment.

“We still have to do some final approvals from some of these projects and there’s still a significant cash flow in 2018,” he said.

Now the program has been tweaked to target GTA entrepreneurs and industries ready to relocate to Innisfil. This is amid perception that commercial land there is too expensive and that there is no servicing in Innisfil Heights.

The solution? Taylor said: Create more supply of vacant land.

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