This content is made possible by our sponsors. Learn more about our OBJ360 content studio here.

Smiths Falls’ growth a testament to importance of economic diversity

This welcoming town is a magnet for new businesses

sparks fly as a man welds in smiths falls

Founded in the mid-1800s, Smiths Falls has long been home to various manufacturing enterprises.

More recently, the town has undergone an economic renaissance, with growing sectors such as tourism, logistics, services and unique retail, adding welcome diversity to the commercial base.

Innovation supports growth

It’s a fitting time to shine a spotlight on Smiths Falls, says Julia Crowder, manager of economic development and tourism, who says the town is poised to make gains in new sectors as development and redevelopment opportunities unfold.

“Innovation has been a constant factor here for over 175 years and we are primed and ready to play a role in new industries such as green energy,” she adds.

“It’s also exciting to think about the possibilities for agrifood-production or the eco and sustainability industries. These are emerging sectors that we would like to grow.”

two women working in a bakery

An ideal location

Part of what makes Smiths Falls ideal for a wide range of businesses is its strategic location close to Ottawa, Kingston and Brockville.

The town has a VIA Rail passenger station plus CP Rail cargo spurs as well as easy access to the 401 and Highway 7 corridors, making it easy to move goods and people to Toronto, Montreal and beyond.

“Railways have always played a key role in Smiths Falls’ economic development and this will be a big part of our continued growth,” notes Crowder. 

Strength in numbers

The town’s 2021 business survey found that 19 new businesses opened that year with only a few closures while 2022 saw 24 new business openings plus a number of expansions and successions.

The numbers demonstrate that owners are reinvesting in their companies and in the community. Smiths Falls is currently home to approximately 375 businesses and their significance is indisputable according to the World Trade Organization, which calls small to medium sized enterprises the backbone of a stable economy. 

Growth in retail and the arts 

A healthy retail sector is another key element. Clothier Michele Baitley recently expanded her eight year old boutique, Michele’s Doorway to Splendour, assisted by a grant from the My Main Street Local Accelerator program.

The money – as well as data analysis and market research the program provided – supported the launch of Men’s Splendid Apparel, “literally from the foundation up,” says Baitley. 

Two butchers in front of their shop

A thriving and growing arts and culture scene also contributes in many ways. Brian Adams purchased and refurbished a derelict main street building to house his growing training company, allocating part of the available space to house an Artisan Village of maker-focused businesses.

This enhances Smiths Falls’ retail landscape while also fuelling the tourism sector. “This is a great place to do business primarily due to the supportive, knowledgeable individuals at our Town Hall who are very invested in seeing Smiths Falls grow and thrive,” notes Adams. 

Resiliency is key

“We are a strong and resilient community, and the numbers prove it,” says Crowder. “We have been through many challenges and obstacles over the years but Smiths Falls as a community rallies together and we continue to grow and prosper. It’s an exciting time to be in Smiths Falls and so will the future as we continue to invest in Business and Community.”