By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – How long will Ron Gaudet, who heads the Windsor Essex Development Corporation, be allowed to continue leading his outfit on its do nothing path. Gaudet and his band of abecedarians are enjoying themselves, burning through millions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money, while the economy in the region nosedives.
Mind you, they do get credit for doing good presentations ripe with theories at Chamber of Commerce meetings. But, since the meeting last month jobs have been flying out the window in Windsor and Essex County and none have been arriving.
More than 274 at current count including the 50 that an alleged scoundrel was to deliver downtown with a mobile application development company that evaporated almost overnight.
Admittedly, Gaudet plans to call the company and see if he can help, most likely it will be too little too late.
Now another 215 at Windsor Raceway, reports the Windsor Star March 14, 2012.
Indicative of the pickle the region is in, a retailer who sold work shoes, by the name of Brian, had to close and pitch eight employees given that the local market for work shoes and boots seems to have dried up. All this adds to the most celebrated job loss of all time the sacking of Windsor’s Auditor General with no back-up plan.
No doubt the gang behind the so-called Project Ice Track are celebrating.
They had planned to build a new racetrack combined with a new arena and a Wayne Gretzky restaurant, a facility that would have put the region on the map and possibly changed the fortunes of the racetrack. No doubt the leaders behind that project have already sent telegrams to the mayor of Windsor, an Edgar Francis, congratulating him for building his white elephant arena and removing them from the economic danger zone that is the current raceway. Luckily the mayor stopped them in their tracks. Well done Mayor.
And a shout-out is deserved to Dwight Duncan who, probably so tired of coming to Windsor to announce new and exciting green energy jobs, has switched to turning up with a job whittling axe instead.
Less than a year ago the region was all abuzz, back in May 2011, with the prospect of 80 jobs being created at LaSalle’s United Solar thin film solar panel plant. It has since vanished.
At least it seemed to be a start on doing something to replace the 25,000 jobs lost in the region. Sadly the job loss number just keeps rising with more losses on the way with the imminent closing of Ford’s last two operations in the once proud rose city.
Of course, Windsor’s mayor is running around telling people he is 80% complete, in his mind, on five economic development files but has delivered nothing and now wants to hire two more staff to handle the files. This is about the extent of job creation in the region. This and the new city hall staffers being brought on board to take phone calls for the lazy, inward and selfish council who can’t take them themselves. This can be expected given the council houses a number of double-dippers who are probably busy with their day jobs.
And then there is Drew Dilkens who heads the city’s economic development committee. Apparently its work is 100% complete given it has meetings with nothing on the agenda. Talk about leadership. You can talk about it but you can’t complain because there isn’t any.
Can the city withstand these continuing hits to its economy? A city in which most of the current investment is being financed on the taxpayer’s dime like the economic devastation of the mayor’s white elephant swimming pool. It is being erected without a business plan and not even, and this is harder to believe, a market study. How can anyone expect that it will not be a drain on city finances for years to come without this mandatory due diligence?
Imagine what could have happened if the mayor of Windsor had the diplomatic skills to work out a deal with Project Ice Track that would have added a pool to the planned mega-facility with all of this removed from taxpayer risk?
Granted the province has to take action facing its considerable deficit.
This is understandable, and, to some, laudable.
What is not laudable is the pretence that people in this region are working on economic development – files that are 80% complete. They are not. All you have to do is look at the results.
In the land of the unaccountable, it is all talk, theories and no action.
For more of the Rest of the News listen to CJAM 99.1 Monday evenings at 8:30.