Prince Edward Lords It Over Windsor
By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – If nothing else one of the problems of having an inward and selfish council is that its members shield themselves from what is going on in other communities to the detriment of the Rose City.
Possibly this is so they can’t be judged against other communities which are doing the heavy lifting their communities need and doing it well.
In Windsor, the council prefers not to talk much about its mysterious economic development or lack thereof. Even its economic development committee is so secret it doesn’t even have meetings.
Despite this, by now everyone knows how much of a failure the mayor and his council is compared to, say Oakland County where L. Brooks Patterson restocked his community’s jobs cabinet with 23,000 new ones back in 2011.
Of course, Windsor is much smaller than Oakland Country but it is also much larger than Prince Edward County, which also happens to be a peninsula surrounded by water except for tiny umbilical cord by Lake Ontario’s Bay of Quinte.
Prince Edward County also has wineries and an economic development program that is the envy of most communities. It is so forward thinking that it has gone beyond traditional economic development. It explained this in a news release back on April 17, 2012 saying that its focus is on community development which “’goes beyond what was originally referred to as economic development in that it encompasses a broader spectrum of services, all focused and aligned to provide maximum benefit to residents, businesses and investors,’ said CAO Merlin Dewing.”
Much of this is the work of the county’s economic developers who are not abecedarians as in Windsor. It benefits from people who have had “extensive training and experience in building sustainable community capacity through local government.”
Odd, in Prince Edward the developers are not learning on the job but are actually advancing their craft to the enrichment of the community. Quite a concept.
But what does this mean? For one, it means when it came time for a new Devonshire Hotel to be built it was not built in Windsor or even Essex but in Wellington, a small community in the county.
This is not your average hotel, the actual name is the Devonshire Drake an offshoot of what some say is the hippest hotel on Toronto’s Queen Street, the Drake. (At least this is said by those who don’t put the larger Gladstone first). This type of hotel is exactly the kind of shot in the arm Windsor and region’s hospitality industry could benefit from but that ship has sailed.
Second it means an incredible amount of new businesses are arriving in the county attracted, as reporter Wallace Immen told readers of the Globe and Mail on May 4, 2012 by the Prince Edward County Innovation Centre in Picton, Ontario, which “has already attracted nine startups in the first year and it is aiming to snag 16 more Canadian and U.S. tech entrepreneurs by mid 2013.”
Immen tells us that the area once known for its apples has become a hub if not “rural Ontario‘s app island.”
Basically it is an island save for that little connection which probably made it easier for “Steven Chan, who’s moving his startup gaming and animation company from California’s high-tech Silicon Valley to tiny Picton, on the shores of Lake Ontario.”
What is even more remarkable in all of this is that the county has about the same number of people living within its borders as does Kingsville which begs the question; is an equal number of tech entrepreneurs flocking to Kingsville? If they are it is a closely guarded secret, like the Mayor of Windsor’s mystery trips that have produced, well, basically nothing that can be publicly discussed.
Is Prince Edward County’s success because it has more advantages than Windsor? It doesn’t. It just seems to be doing a much better job of selling itself.
Consider what attracted Mr. Chan to the county. Again reporter Immen tells us “‘In Silicon Valley or even Toronto, the cost of living is high. I realized our dollars could go a longer way here,’ Mr. Chan said. Large homes sell for less than half of what he and his employees would pay in Silicon Valley, and the new research park the company is moving into includes a marina.”
Apparently, Windsor talks about having a downtown marina but with an inward and selfish council not much seems to ever happen.
If Prince Edward is hopping, why not Windsor? Is it because Windsor is disadvantaged by having neophytes in its economic development office? Is this why Prince Edward is light years ahead? If that is the case, then it is a shame. Shame on the inward council.
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