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County Launches Annual Haldimand Wish Book, to encourage residents to shop local

Haldimand County’s Economic Development and Tourism division has released the annual Haldimand Wish Book – a one-stop guide for local gift ideas, and unique experiences. This is the third year the wish book has provided residents with ways to ‘shop local’ for the holidays.

The Holiday Wish Book celebrates local, hand-made products and features over 36 local businesses in the print version. Copies are being distributed to all households in Haldimand by mail and will also be available for pickup at Haldimand Libraries. An online, downloadable version of the Holiday Wish Book is available at

“The Holiday Wish Book is a great opportunity for residents to find great gift ideas for everyone on their list while supporting local business,” said Manager of Economic Development & Tourism at Haldimand County, Lidy Romanuk.

Through the online directory, also located at, shoppers can also find an additional number of local businesses, holiday events, experiences and gift inspiration.

For more information on the Haldimand Holiday Wish Book and support local this holiday season, visit A social media campaign is currently in market that highlights participating businesses, so be sure to like and share your favourites. Find Tourism Haldimand on Facebook and Instagram.

For any questions, or businesses who want to be added to our online directory, contact the Economic Development and Tourism division at

Government of Canada Supports Haldimand County through the Tourism Relief Fund

Haldimand County is pleased to announce the receipt of a non-repayable contribution of $94,105 from Ontario’s Southwest Regional Tourism Organization to create a new tourism experience development program, “From Great to Grand: Growing Tourism Experiences in Haldimand County.”  The program aims to bring multiple businesses through the experience development process, promoting the launch of new market-ready experiences by early 2023.

This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). Ontario’s Southwest Regional Tourism Organization received nearly $11 million from FedDev Ontario to help local tourism organizations and businesses safely welcome back visitors, recover from the impacts of the pandemic and prepare for future growth.

The “From Great to Grand: Growing Tourism Experiences”  program will focus on creating four new experiential tourism products as travel motivators that engage visitors in a series of memorable travel activities, revealed over time, that are inherently personal, engage the senses and make connections on an emotional, physical, spiritual or intellectual level. The program will encourage operators to respond to a traveller’s desire to venture beyond the beaten tourist paths and dive deeper into authentic local culture.

There has been a great local response to the program, and Tourism Haldimand will be working with the following four businesses as experience partners to carry out the goals and priorities of this program:

  • Forest Fit – nature’s gym without walls
  • Potting Shed – Experience a new era of gardening
  • Rabi’s Grand Kitchen – social enterprise hub and food incubator
  • Cottonwood Mansion – preserving local history

In addition to Haldimand County’s successful application to the Tourism Relief Fund, five other Haldimand County organizations also received funding. Congratulations to the successful applicants:

  • Caledonia Business Improvement Area
  • Ruthven Park National Historic Site Inc.
  • Toronto Motorsports Park
  • Twisted Lemon Restaurant
  • Windecker Woods Flower Farm


“The Government of Canada’s $78-million investment through the Tourism Relief Fund is helping communities across southern Ontario. With this funding, southern Ontario’s Regional Tourism Organizations and Indigenous Tourism Ontario are providing hundreds of local businesses and organizations with the support they need to create jobs, attract more visitors and grow local economies, now and into the future.”

  • The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Tourism development enables a range of benefits to all stakeholders involved. It increases income and jobs from tourist spending, helps preserve cultural and natural heritage for tourists, and increases understanding of other cultures.  Community-led projects such as the ‘Great to Grand: Growing Tourism Experiences’ program and small-scale business supports at the local level provide significant contributions toward community improvement, and we’re thrilled to be able to deliver this program with support from the Ontario Southwest Tourism Relief Fund.”

  • Lidy Romanuk, Manager, Economic Development and Tourism.

“Tourism innovators from across the region have demonstrated the abundance of creativity and opportunity for continued tourism growth within Ontario’s Southwest. Through the Tourism Relief Fund, we’re seeing infrastructure improvements, new experience development and destination management projects. These projects will extend more travel into the shoulder seasons, prioritize environmental sustainability and inclusivity, and are innovative and bold. We’re pleased to be working with FedDev Ontario to administer the Tourism Relief Fund in Ontario’s Southwest.”

  • Joanne Wolnik, Executive Director, Ontario’s Southwest Regional Tourism Organization

Government of Canada Logo                 Haldimand County logo. A yellow sun rising or setting atop green and blue waves. Haldimand County in black lettering below.

Haldimand County announces return of Small Business Breakfast on October 20

Haldimand County, in partnership with the Haldimand Business Network, is pleased to announce the return of the Small Business Breakfast, which is being hosted by the Hagersville Chamber of Commerce. The free event will take place on October 20 at the Hagersville Community Centre from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and all local business owners are invited to attend.

This year’s guest speaker is hometown hero Becky Kellar, three time Olympic women’s hockey gold medalist. Becky, who was born and raised in Hagersville, will share an impactful and motivational message about the journey to excellence and how to challenge our limits, find our passion, believe in ourselves and grow on our own ‘path to gold’.

“We are pleased to partner with the Hagersville Chamber of Commerce and the Haldimand Business Network to reconnect with business owners across Haldimand County and to celebrate the impact each business makes in our communities,” says Lidy Romanuk, Manager of Economic Development and Tourism.  “The Small Business Breakfast provides an important opportunity for business owners to network and celebrate one another.”

Breakfast will be served by Barin’s Kitchen of Hagersville. There is no cost to attend but registration is required. Local businesses and business organizations who wish to register may visit and follow the links for the Small Business Breakfast or reach out to to RSVP.

Applications are now open for Haldimand County’s new, industry-leading Experiential Tourism Development Program

Haldimand County is setting the stage for regenerative tourism development in Ontario with the launch of its new program “From Good to Grand: Growing Tourism Experiences in Haldimand County.” As part of this program, Haldimand County will be looking for four operators or organizations to develop new tourism experiences to be brought to market in early 2023.

“In August 2022, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) identified four key pillars to best underpin a new federal Tourism Growth Strategy and ensure the industry achieves its key goals by 2030: 1) Attract and Retain a Sustainable Tourism Workforce, 2) Improve Access for Visitors to and within Canada, 3) Develop and Promote Tourism Assets, and 4) Build a Regenerative and Inclusive Tourism Industry. Experiential Tourism is a key method to achieve these goals,” explains Lidy Romanuk, Haldimand County’s Manager of Economic Development and Tourism, “we value and understand the role that Tourism Haldimand and Haldimand County play in building a resilient and inclusive tourism sector.”

Joanne Wolnik, Executive Director of Ontario’s Southwest Regional Tourism Organization, furthers, “Experiential tourism development invites stakeholders new to tourism, as well as seasoned operators, new ways to diversify their business, welcome visitors, and access the tourism economy.  Across Ontario’s Southwest, we’ve seen artisans, producers, historians, chefs, musicians, farmers and more, share what they’re passionate about while adding new revenue streams to their business by developing and offering experiential programming for travellers.  Ontario’s Southwest regional tourism organization has been investing in experiential tourism development since 2017 and Haldimand County Economic Development & Tourism, has been a key player in this initiative. We are thrilled to see this continued investment in sustainable industry growth.”

An open call for participants has launched, and interested operators and organizations are encouraged to apply by Monday, Sept. 19 at 11:59:59 p.m., EST. The selected participants will receive support to bring their tourism ideas to market including access to 40 hours of one-on-one coaching with industry experts; participation in experience development workshops; and marketing and advertising support to promote and encourage bookings. The program will run until December 31, 2022.

For more information and to apply, visit

New grant funding allows Haldimand County Digital Service Squad to continue to help small businesses adopt online technologies

Haldimand County, in partnership with Grand Erie Business Centre, has announced that it has received a $118,000 grant from the Digital Main Street program for a two-year Digital Service Squad program, which provides small business owners with the tools and support needed to digitally transform their businesses.

“Haldimand County and our partners Grand Erie Business Centre are thrilled to be able to offer the Digital Main Street program through to March 2024. Since the first introduction of the program in the Fall of 2020, we’ve seen a significant impact to local businesses. To date 123 businesses within Haldimand County have received a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and 529 businesses have received assistance and we’re pleased that the program will be continuing.  Businesses who connect with a member of our Digital Service Squad receive valuable one-on-one assistance to successfully navigate today’s digital landscape helping to enhance the economic strength of Haldimand County and apply for a Digital Transformation Grant.” Lidy Romanuk, Manager, Economic Development and Tourism, Haldimand County.

Digital Service Squads (DSS) are the cornerstone of Digital Main Street (DMS), with trained specialists who meet with brick-and-mortar small businesses, at no cost, to help them complete an online assessment and to introduce them to online training modules designed to build their digital knowledge and skills. This one-on-one DSS assistance includes support for basic website setup, Google Business Profiles, 360⁰ photos, social media presence, and much more. Squad members are also trained to help qualified small businesses with the development of their Digital Transformation Plan and then with the application process for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant.

“Small businesses are innovative and entrepreneurial, but often lack the resources to respond to change, be resilient, yet flexible,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director, OBIAA. “OBIAA is delighted to work once again alongside the Digital Main Street team and is thrilled to support Haldimand County’s squad. The Digital Main Street program’s resources, grants, training, and Digital Service Squad assistance provide the means for more small businesses in communities across Haldimand County to adopt innovative ways, create new revenue streams, expand their markets, and face the future with optimism and confidence.”

The Digital Transformation Grant application window is open and will close on October 31, 2022.  All interested Haldimand County business owners are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.  Digital Main Street has also extended its ShopHERE program. This amazing opportunity creates online stores for independent small businesses and artists at no cost.  For more information about the Digital Transformation Grant, the ShopHERE program, or to book an appointment with the Digital Service Squad, email or call (905) 318-5932.

Haldimand County welcomes My Main Street Ambassadors to provide on-the-ground support for local businesses and entrepreneurs

Haldimand County’s Economic Development and Tourism  Department is pleased to introduce Main Street Ambassadors Jenna Beemer and Jessica Easson as part of our community’s participation in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program.

Through the Government of Canada’s My Main Street Local Business Accelerator, delivered by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO), businesses and entrepreneurs in Haldimand County will have access to these dedicated Main Street Ambassadors who will offer insight and support to help revitalize the main street community. The Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), provided EDCO and the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) with a $23.25-million investment to deliver My Main Street support across southern Ontario.

“Our government is committed to supporting small businesses to drive economic growth in communities across Southern Ontario,” says the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario. “The My Main Street program invests in local small businesses and communities to keep our neighbourhoods vibrant, grow our economy and make sure Canadians have access to good jobs.”

“We have a great business community and passionate business owners, and we are looking forward to working with them to further improve the retail mix and increase the diversity of business offerings,” says Lidy Romanuk, Haldimand County’s Manager of Economic Development and Tourism.

In their roles, Jenna and Jessica, will be working over the next year to help grow existing businesses and welcome new entrepreneurs—and business ideas—to the area. As a part of the Local Business Accelerator program, Caledonia, Cayuga, Jarvis, Hagersville, Dunnville and Selkirk business owners will be eligible for detailed market research, data analysis, business support and more.

For more information, please contact Jenna Beemer at or Jessica Easson at and visit the My Main Street website. For local program updates the Haldimand County website.


The Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) is delivering the My Main Street, Local Business Accelerator program stream, which is supporting the revitalization of main street communities and provides non-repayable contributions for more than 650 local businesses across southern Ontario. The program focuses on creating and maintaining vibrant and inclusive local main streets while providing residents, new entrepreneurs, and existing businesses with economic opportunities in our communities.

For more than 12 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Haldimand Logo, My Main St Logo, Government of Canada Logo

Haldimand County launches new online building permit and planning application portal

Haldimand County is pleased to announce the launch of its new, online building permit & planning application portal. Residents, contractors and developers can now submit applications, pay fees, schedule inspections and get status updates from one central location, 24/7.

The new online portal, powered by CityView, will allow registered users to access their own, customized dashboard of all past and present building, municipal enforcement and planning-related business activities. Users will also be able to submit by-law complaints and track their status through the portal.

“The introduction of CityView is one additional step the county has taken to enhance its services and improve customer experience,” said Mike Evers, Haldimand County’s General Manager of Community & Development Services.

“Not only does the portal make it easier for residents and builders to manage their construction and development-related projects, it streamlines the application intake process for staff to maximize efficiencies and save time,” Evers added.

Individuals who wish to utilize this new online portal can create an account at Anyone with an upcoming building or planning-related project is encouraged to sign up and submit applications using the new system.

Individuals with questions about the new online portal are encouraged to read the Frequently Asked Questions or contact Building & Municipal Enforcement Services or Planning staff for further information.

Hagersville Chamber of Commerce sells Community Centre, Chamber presents Haldimand County with $700,000 contribution towards the new Hagersville Library + Active Living Centre

The fund-raising committee for the Hagersville Library + Active Living Centre took a big leap towards reaching its goal with the recent $700,000 contribution from the Hagersville Chamber of Commerce following its sale of the Hagersville Community Centre.

“We are so pleased to be able to make this contribution towards the Hagersville Library + Active Living Centre project,” says Chamber President Rob Phillips. “The new building will be a beautiful, fully accessible and functional community space that will enhance the quality of life of our residents of all ages and abilities.”

“The Community Centre has served as a gathering place for our community for more than one hundred years, and it has served many service clubs and user groups well, but the times have changed and we need a building now that is more accessible and is able to accommodate many different types of programming, events and activities,” adds Phillips.

The Hagersville Library + Active Living Centre will be located in Grant Kett Park, adjacent to the town’s Arena, ball diamonds and outdoor amphitheatre.

Plans for the new, multi-purpose facility were introduced in early 2021 during capital budget deliberations and approved by Council for construction in 2024. As part of the project and preliminary public engagement, the community will have to raise approximately $2 million towards the co-located facility.

“Haldimand County is incredibly grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for its stewardship and financial management of the Community Centre for the past twenty years,” adds Ward 4 Councillor and Chair of the community fund-raising committee, Tony Dalimonte. “This has been a tremendous amount of work and responsibility for the Chamber, in particular volunteers John & Janice Luttjehuizen and Charlie & BJ Garvie, who managed the operations, maintenance and booking of the facility throughout that time.”

For background information, details and updates about the Hagersville Library + Active Living Centre project, please visit

Pictured from left to right: Paul Diette (CEO, Haldimand County Public Library), Doug Miller (Community Fund-Raising Committee Member), Tony Dalimonte (Ward 4 Councillor and Chair of Community Fund-Raising Committee), Rob Phillips (President of Hagersville Chamber of Commerce), Ed McCarthy (Director of Hagersville Chamber of Commerce)

New program for Haldimand & Norfolk aims to “Spark” innovative tourism ideas with grants and mentorships

A new program aimed at sparking and supporting innovative tourism ideas for Haldimand & Norfolk was officially announced today. The “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program will match selected applicants from the region with a mentor and provide a $3,000 seed grant to help take their new tourism idea to the next level.

View the official announcement video here:    

The “Spark” Program was first piloted in Windsor-Essex in 2018 by the Tourism Innovation Lab, and has now been delivered in over 16 regions across the province and British Columbia. Its goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits.

While there are no specific categories, program organizers are especially interested in new tourism ideas that connect with agritourism, cycling, waterfront, and the winter season.

Applications are encouraged from individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations based in Haldimand & Norfolk from November 23rd to January 14th, 2022. Following a juried review process, five finalists from Haldimand County and five finalists from Norfolk County will be invited to virtual Pitch Sessions where three winners will be selected from each.

The Haldimand & Norfolk “Spark” Program is being led by the Tourism Innovation Lab in collaboration and with support from Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, Haldimand County, Norfolk County, Libro Credit Union, Grand Erie Business Centre and Venture Norfolk.

For more information on the Haldimand & Norfolk “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program visit


Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation
“Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation is excited to be partnering on the expansion of “Spark” Program into Haldimand and Norfolk counties. We’ve seen some amazing ideas translate into new tourism experiences for travellers across Ontario’s Southwest, and we’re eager to see what new ideas emerge from Haldimand and Norfolk!” said Joanne Wolnik, Executive Director of the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation.

Haldimand County
“Our goal is to inspire Haldimand & Norfolk County residents and entrepreneurs to come forward with creative ideas that will generate new innovative tourism opportunities, experiences and partnerships in our communities.  We are excited to be working together along with our project partners to capture these great ideas, and define the actions needed to put these ideas to work.  Now more than ever, the tourism industry needs innovation and the “Spark” Program is a great opportunity to launch these tourism offerings and assist entrepreneurs in getting them to the next level” said Lidy Romanuk, Manager, Economic Development & Tourism, Haldimand County.

Norfolk County
Norfolk County is thrilled to be partnering with Haldimand County on this exciting Spark program, which will provide an opportunity for our many creative entrepreneurs to bring innovative tourism product ideas to market.  With the importance of tourism and entrepreneurship to our economy, we are delighted to be part of a project that both supports the creation and growth of small businesses, while simultaneously adding exciting new product offerings for our residents and visitors to enjoy when experiencing all that Norfolk County has to offer.  We are grateful to the Tourism Innovation Lab and wonderful sponsors (SWOTC, Libro Credit Union, Venture Norfolk, Grand Erie Business Centre) for helping to make this project a reality” said Zvi Lifshiz, Director, Strategic Innovation and Economic Development, Norfolk County.

Libro Credit Union
“At Libro Credit Union, we know that working together always makes people stronger, so we find partnerships like this so rewarding. The Spark program and everyone involved in it is a great example of partnership with people who share our values. At Libro, our financial coaches work with Owners – we call our customers Owners because they own part of the company – to set goals and work towards them, and there’s nothing we like more than an exciting idea like this!” said Scott Macleod, Regional Manager Haldimand & Norfolk, Libro Credit Union.

Grand Erie Business Centre
“The “Spark” Program has a history of success in helping to develop and foster new tourism businesses and entrepreneurs. We are happy to support this program and partner with everyone involved to encourage new tourism experiences to be developed and offered in our communities.” said Tauri Caputo, General Manager, Grand Erie Business Centre.

Tourism Innovation Lab
“We are very excited to be launching the “Spark” Program in Haldimand & Norfolk,” said Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Tourism Innovation Lab. “As we have seen through previous rounds in southwest Ontario, innovative tourism ideas brought forward by entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations will inspire and elevate the tourism offerings and experiences in the region.”

Haldimand County’s Economic Development & Tourism Division Wins Provincial Tourism Award

Haldimand County’s Economic Development and Tourism division has won a provincial tourism award for initiatives completed in 2020 to support local businesses.

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), in partnership with Attractions Ontario, The Culinary Tourism Alliance, Indigenous Tourism Ontario and OTEC presented the Ontario Tourism Resiliency Awards at an in-person and virtual awards gala on October 27.

Haldimand was presented with the Innovation Award in the Destination Marketing Organization category.

The award encompassed the Real. Local. strategy that was implemented to support local businesses and better position Haldimand’s tourism offerings.

Marketing projects included in the award were:

  • Development of ‘Real. Local.’ branded graphic
    • The ‘Real. Local.’ graphic is available to local business to incorporate in their marketing efforts. Since the launch, several businesses have incorporated it in print and social media advertising, as well as on packaging.
  • Local food campaign, retail & wellness campaign, Road Trip Haldimand Campaign
    • Advertising for these 3 campaigns saw a total reach of 5,200 in print, a reach of over 200,000 in social media and 6,295 clicks to learn more about the 75 business which were included in the promotions.
  • 2020 Haldimand Holiday Wish Book
    • The Holiday Wish Book campaign included 58 businesses. All businesses were featured in the online directory hosted on the Haldimand County website and 33 businesses were featured in the printed booklet. 22,498 booklets were mailed to every household in Haldimand. The social media campaign, which featured all participating businesses, reached 67,687 individuals and saw 2,615 clicks from people interested in learning more about local businesses.
  • Real. Haldimand. Marketplace
    • The Marketplace launched in late December 2020 with 24 vendors and has now grown to 43 local businesses selling products on the online e-commerce site. An extensive social media campaign saw over 3,000 clicks to view listings on the Marketplace. A local business indicated that their business traffic doubled when they were included in the Marketplace and corresponding promotional marketing campaigns.
  • Increased Digital Presence
    • A new Tourism Website and Tourism Instagram page were launched at the end of 2020 to generate further interest in Haldimand’s diverse offerings, along with an extensive social media campaign to support local businesses.

Haldimand’s Business Development and Planning Advisory Committee (BDAPAC) was instrumental in COVID-19 business recovery planning, along with staff, in the early days of the pandemic.

In June 2020, EDT received funding from Fed Dev Ontario to support tourism marketing initiatives and support the tourism sector locally.

Through the recommendation of BDAPAC, a Marketing Advisory Committee was formed and consulted, giving direction on how the funding would be used, to maximize opportunities to support and promote local businesses. Council was kept informed of the work of BDAPAC and of these marketing initiatives and have been very supportive of these efforts.

Haldimand County is honoured to be recognized for this award and appreciate the support of Council, BDAPAC and the Marketing Advisory Committee in helping achieve this success.

For more information on supports available for local business, visit