EcDev Journal

Stand out from the crowd. Be bold and collaborate

Posted on Tuesday August 04, 2015

Stand out from the crowd.  Be bold and collaborate

Carrie Manchuk

Carrie Manchuk, Manager of the Manufacturing Investment Unit and Investment Ready: Certified Site Program with Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

Competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) is fierce. Jurisdictions compete against each other to attract precious new jobs and capital investment; however, there any many things you can do to stand out in such a crowded space.

Have a clear mission
Who is your target audience and what motivates them? Do you have a strategy to convert them from prospects to business partners, or is your goal simply to improve brand awareness? Are you using the right tactics to reach them?

The answers to the above questions will determine the most effective marketing approach.  For example, the Province of Ontario targets both site selectors and C-suite executives in key priority sectors. Our comprehensive international marketing strategy brands Ontario to the world by appealing to the personal desires and goals of our target audience.

Under this strategy, the province executes a whole host of activities and tactics to build brand awareness with investment decision makers from around the globe — these include a mix of advertising, direct marketing, content marketing, social media, and event support. 

Ontario’s marketing efforts are designed to:

  • Be bold and differentiate the province in a global marketplace.
  • Appeal to the target audience’s personal desires and goals.
  • Demonstrate that Ontario can help propel their business to succeed.

Feed the funnel
Ontario enhances its lead generation capabilities by leveraging the province’s 11 International Marketing Centres around the world. These Ontario offices are co-located within Federal Embassies and Consulates. In addition to this presence, the province contracts with Investment Development Representatives, who work to generate a continuous supply of new investment leads.

These leads are then moved through a structured sales funnel methodology to maximize the potential of positive outcomes— taking generated leads through a progressive nurturing process with the ultimate goal of conversion. During the lead nurturing process, the province, in collaboration with other levels of government, can provide a significant amount of additional information to support the investment decision. This includes information on Ontario’s market access, business costs, local workforce and quality of life.

Emphasize key strategic advantages.
What makes you different from other competing jurisdictions? Do you integrate these advantages into your brand messaging and marketing material? Do you have credible statistics to back up your claims? Below are the key value propositions Ontario incorporates into all messaging, materials and proposals:

  • Low Competitive Business Costs
    Ontario offers the lowest overall business costs when compared to all G7 countries. The combined federal-Ontario general CIT rate is significantly lower (nearly 13%) than the US average federal-state CIT rate.
  • Access to the $19-trillion NAFTA Market and Global Markets Our sophisticated infrastructure facilitates C$844 million in daily two-way goods trade between the U.S. and Ontario.  Furthermore, there are 142 million consumers within just a day’s drive of Ontario, making for excellent business opportunities.
  • Highly skilled and educated workforce Ontario’s 44 colleges and universities continually produce the most graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) than any other region in the G7. As well, 65% of Ontarians have post-secondary education.
  • A quality lifestyle - Ontario has universal healthcare and a world-class educational infrastructure along with plenty of conveniences to make one feel right at home.
  •  Innovation lives in Ontario
    Ontario has a unique innovation ecosystem that is conducive to building partnerships that drive business success and profitability.

Be prepared. Be Investment Ready
Before any investment deals can happen, investors need detailed information about available sites. They want assurance about the nature and quality of the infrastructure that is in place: access to hydro/power, water, wastewater, and natural gas are minimum requirements. Roads and interchanges are a necessity. Water transportation is important for some. And rail to a site provides its own appeal.

Proactive versus reactive
Traditionally, site inquiries have come to potential investment jurisdictions through a Request for Information (RFI).  In most cases, these RFIs require the inclusion of very specific information within a rigid deadline. This leaves little time to gather and prepare the proper material.

The Investment Ready: Certified Site Program
The Investment Ready Program is Ontario’s response to the new reality of shortened timelines for information, site selection and market entry.This program is the first province-wide site certification program in Canada. Industrial properties are pre-qualified so site information is readily available to interested parties looking to invest or expand in Ontario.  In addition to supporting investment attraction, it also works to strengthen relationships between economic development professionals in municipalities, regional organizations and the province.

In a time when competing jurisdictions are providing a vast array of financial and tax incentives, site certification focuses on completing up-front due diligence to reduce the burden to investors who are interested in Ontario, and then leveraging this site information through proactive sales and marketing— making it a cost-effective approach to attracting investment opportunities. In short, we make site selection faster and easier.   

Leverage the power of collaboration
Investment Ready: Certified Sites are zoned for multiple industrial uses, and are properties that are a minimum of 10 acres in size. Behind each property is a concerted municipal, provincial and in some cases, private sector effort to make a site ready for investment. Industrial land owners can apply to the program to receive financial assistance towards the cost of completing certification requirements for eligible properties. Industrial sites that achieve certification will then benefit from international marketing and site promotion, as well as being integrated into Ontario’s international investment attraction strategy.

Ontario’s first seven certified sites span from the Town of Lakeshore in the west to Edwardsburgh-Cardinal in the east and include both municipally and privately owned property.

Because site information is offered for download on, it is available for use not only by site selectors and potential investors, but also by myriad economic developers in any of the three levels of government. With all levels of government in Canada aligning to attract investment, Ontario will be strongly positioned to a global audience.

The path to victory
The next time you find yourself competing for a potential investment, remember that there is strength in numbers. Leverage the resources available to you from all levels of government to form a united front. Competition is fierce, and working together will help you to stand out from the crowd.

Carrie is the currently the Manager of the Manufacturing Investment Unit and Investment Ready: Certified Site Program with Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. For the last two years, Carrie has managed the creation of Ontario's Investment Ready Program - the first province-wide site certification program in Canada. She has worked for the Government of Ontario for 10 years in a variety of senior policy and program delivery roles. Prior to joining the Ontario Public Service, Carrie worked for an international academic association, coordinating its conferences and publications in over 10 countries. Carrie has a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Commerce from the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.

Carrie Manchuk, Manager of the Manufacturing Investment Unit and Investment Ready: Certified Site Program with Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure