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Center Wellington's Economic Development Strategic Action Plan

Case Study


The Situation

In 2002-3 the Township of Centre Wellington launched the preparation of an Economic Development Strategic Action Plan to strengthen the Township's economy and help guide longer-term economic growth and development in the municipality. TCI Management Consultants was retained to help develop the plan under the direction of the Township's economic development committee and senior Township staff.

The scope of the plan included: an assessment of the Township's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; the role of tourism, recreation, arts, culture and special events; the agricultural economy including agri-business and agri-tourism; the role of the Township in industrial land development and marketing; business retention and expansion; and downtown core area revitalization.

The plan needed to address some challenging issues. Paul Walker, president of the Chamber of Commerce said that one of these is the need to work together. “The outside world basically hasn't heard of Centre Wellington,” he said. "They know us as Fergus and Elora. So a key question here is whether we should create a new image or identity based around Centre Wellington, or continue to build upon our existing names. Whichever approach we take will require that we work together as one community.”

The process was highly consultative with a number of interviews and focus group sessions. In addition, a web site containing information about the study and soliciting community reaction and input was created.


The Township of Centre Wellington is a new municipality created in 1999 as a result of the amalgamation of the Town of Fergus, the Village of Elora and parts of the Townships of Eramosa, Nichol, Pilkington and West Garafraxa. It is located in the central portion of Wellington County with a population of approximately 24,000, with the majority living in one of three urban centres – Fergus, Elora-Salem and Belwood.

Centre Wellington has experienced significant residential growth throughout the 1990’s and into the new millennium. The Township is within commuting distance of the City of Guelph and Waterloo Region, as well as the westerly portions of the Greater Toronto Area. It has begun to attract new residents wishing to relocate from larger urban centres.

The economy of Centre Wellington is broadly based in agriculture, industry, commerce and tourism. Historically, the Town of Fergus has been the centre of most industrial and commercial development in the Township. Elora-Salem and Belwood has tended towards tourism. Fergus and Elora each have a distinctive downtown commercial core providing a mix of stores and services addressing the needs of both local residents and tourists.

In recent years, industrial and commercial development has not kept pace with the rate of growth in residential development. The Township has determined that a greater effort in terms of economic development needs to be made.

Study Outcomes

TCI completed an Economic Development Strategic Action Plan for the Township that identified key actions that must be taken by the municipality within a 5-year timeframe in order to implement or sustain longer-term strategic objectives. The action plan developed the following core information:

  • An assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis)

  • The regional and local economic trends affecting Centre Wellington.

  • Socio-economic characteristics of the Township and region, and their potential impact upon business creation and retention factors.

  • The role of tourism, recreation, arts and culture, and special events.

  • The agricultural economy including agri-business and agri-tourism.

  • The role of the Township in industrial land development and marketing.

  • Business retention and expansion.

  • Downtown core area revitalization. 

The plan then formulated strategic goals and objectives for economic development within Centre Wellington, as well as an action plan to implement the goals and objectives. The action plan provided a range of actions that could be taken towards improving the economic vitality of the Township. These actions rated and prioritized the likelihood of a positive outcome and cost to the municipality. Emphasis was placed on those plans that will achieve positive results at a reasonable cost. 

Link to community organizations involved with the project

The Township of Centre Wellington

The Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Elora Business Improvement Area (BIA)

Fergus Business Improvement Area (BIA)




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