Economic Development

Few politicians get elected without promising “jobs, jobs, jobs!” At the same time, it seems like the folks most interested in job creation don’t want to see those jobs be government jobs: there’s a long history in North America of distrust toward the public sector, and a commitment to free markets and privileging the private sector. So we want politicians to create jobs, but we don’t want them to actually create jobs. So what does that actually look like? How does a municipal government encourage local job creation?

Enter the Economic Development Department. Here’s a list of things our Economic Development Department is doing in Brighton to stimulate and support local business.

Job Fairs

Brighton’s Economic Development department recently hosted a job fair, inviting local businesses to share their staffing needs with the community. We hear a lot about the importance of local jobs: if there aren’t enough jobs locally, then kids who grow up here can’t stay here after they graduate; the town can’t be sustained by the property taxes of retired folks alone, it needs to be balanced by commercial and industrial taxes; we need the capacity to benefit from tourists; etc. The current economic climate means that there are jobs out there; as always, the hardest part is connecting the right people to the right jobs. The Economic Development department is doing what they can to help with that, for all of our benefit.

Brighton’s HR Manager, Jennifer Smith, represented the municipality and our summer student jobs, among others! Photo courtesy of our local journalist, Natalie Hamilton, from her TorStar article about the job fair.


Brighton has long had a canteen at the ball diamonds in King Edward Park, but for some time now they’ve been in need of a makeover. Our ED department saw an opportunity in that old building, and they’re proceeding with plans for renovations that would turn the single-vendor canteen into a space where multiple local food vendors can set up and serve our summertime sports crowd. With a relatively small investment, the ED department will be facilitating several local businesses and supporting our local recreation programs. As a soccer parent, I sincerely doubt that I’ll be cooking on game nights if there are hot dogs (and more!) on hand in the park.

What’s baseball without hot dogs? Renovating this canteen can help bring the businesses to the people!

The Industrial Park

It isn’t just local food vendors that need space. Industrial businesses are very restricted in where they can operate, as they often operate with dangerous or polluting materials and processes. Industrial zoning requires significant setbacks from residential properties, so most communities clump industrial zoning into an “industrial park” rather than having industrial zoning scattered around town.

One of the many things that Economic Development Manager Ben Hagerman does with his time is promote Brighton’s industrial park to major businesses that could set up shop here. The industrial park is owned by the municipality, which has also serviced the lots so that they’re ready for whoever wants to purchase them and move in. Industrial land generates the highest property tax, and industrial businesses tend to create more jobs per business, so attracting industrial businesses to Brighton could be a big win for our community’s economic sustainability.

Our industrial park, from above.

Brownfield Remediation

Brighton doesn’t just have new industrial land; past businesses have risen and fallen over the decades, sometimes leaving behind land that hasn’t been used since because it has been contaminated. The corner lot downtown (a former gas station) and the east side of Prince Edward Street just south of the tracks (a former chrome plant) are the most obvious examples. These are called “Brownfields”, and they have to be remediated (cleaned up) before they can be used again. They aren’t parks, wetlands, or significant habitat; they’re largely unused by humans and other creatures alike.

The ED department sees what I think we all see when they look at these lots: missed opportunities and untapped potential. That’s why they’ve initiated a Community Improvement Plan to remediate our brownfields, looking into what kinds of incentives the municipality can offer to entice the property owners or potential investors to remediate the land and put it to use. Their plan recognizes that having these properties developed is in all of our interests, and so the municipality will share in some of the costs of remediating the sites. Having them developed would be a win-win!

Local Collaboration

Businesses support businesses, because collaboration is better than competition and what’s good for one business tends to be good for all businesses, and for the entire community. That idea is foundational to Brighton’s Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Brighton-Cramahe Chamber of Commerce. Both of these organizations bring a lot of benefit to Brighton through organizing promotions and events, supporting tourism, and engaging the municipality. The Economic Development department is their primary contact at the municipality.

Regional Collaboration

One of the facts about economic development is that it doesn’t happen in isolation: Brighton is impacted by our entire region. Given that we live at the corner of three counties (Northumberland, Hastings, and Prince Edward), we’re impacted by three regions! Many of our residents commute to jobs in Trenton, Belleville, Picton, Cobourg, etc., and tourism draws from the Bay of Quinte and Prince Edward County also pull people to Brighton.

That’s why Brighton is part of the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC), which coordinates economic development initiatives throughout the Quinte region. We’re also part of the Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board, which does the same for regional marketing of businesses and tourism experiences. They collect a small amount of per capita funding from every member municipality (Brighton, Quinte West, Belleville, Tyendenaga, and Napanee), as well as a portion of the Municipal Accommodation Tax from each, and use that money to market the entire region, often through programs that support individual businesses. They return more money to Brighton through these programs than they collect from us, making this a program with excellent value for us! They coordinate their efforts with our own Economic Development department.

Bay of Quinte Discovery Map, courtesy of the Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board.

Broadband Internet

Wherever your business is located, it’s also located online. That’s simply where commerce happens today. That’s one of the big reasons why broadband internet is so important to our community, and why our Economic Development department has been part of the efforts to improve rural broadband in Brighton.

There IS a pilot program from Hydro One to bring rural broadband to Brighton, but last we heard from them (just last month) they’ve put that program on pause for unexplained reasons. I’m sure that Ben is working on next steps to keep us moving forward, because connectivity is a key driver of economic development.

Internet Communications

And speaking of the internet, having it is only half of the solution; we also need to use it well. While BoQ RMB (above) is doing a great job of promoting the region online, our ED department promotes Brighton in particular online, as well as managing our municipal social media channels. I know that a lot of people go to the Brighton Ontario Resident group on Facebook and just ask around for municipal updates, but please follow the Municipal Facebook Page!

All in all, Economic Development is a good investment for Brighton. This small but mighty team does a LOT to support our economic sustainability. Thanks team!

2 thoughts on “Economic Development

  1. To follow the Municipality’s fb page go to Here you can subscribe to not only council meetings but various committees as well. It’s a great way to keep up with what is happening in our town and even speak at meetings.

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