Windsor-Essex Undevelopment Commission And Our Competition
Oh well, I guess that meant that the number of people who might have attended the session will be less because they will not know about the Update of the Undevelopment Commission unless they click on the Agenda link.
The Star story on the 10 month and continuing search for the CEO was reasonably accurate except for not mentioning the sneering put down of other Development Commissions in the rest of the Province. You know the ones, the Development Commissions that actually do something like create jobs for their regions instead of visiting Europe, creating websites and producing brochures for a year!
Here will be the Star photo as our next CEO job search takes place when ads are placed in a paper like the Globe's career section and not just online:After all of the praise that he received at the Joint Councils meeting after his presentation, I wonder why former WEDC VP Mike Burton was not offered the job.
Looks like the Howdy Doodies who cheer anything the Claribells do are cheering again today:
- "Fifteen startup jobs? That would have been dismissed as chicken feed a few years ago, a mere blip in the great economic scheme of things. And no doubt, given this city's penchant for sneering and sniping, the peanut gallery will have a field day mocking Wednesday's announcement as a non-event."
Speaking of the WEUC, oooops WEDC, what I find very interesting is that the announcements of new investments here promise so much but deliver little. Remember this:
- "Established 10 years ago in Southfield, Superior Information Technologies provides software solutions to a variety of clients in both the public and private sectors.
While the company's local office currently has just one employee, spokes-man Hemant Rajput said Superior hopes to add between 15 and 20 employees within the next year or two...
Kulshrestha also credited the Windsor-Essex Development Commission with being both proactive and supportive of the company's decision to locate in the area."
I raise this because of this comment in the Star story yesterday:
- "Michigan call centre to create more jobs in Windsor
Michigan-based call centre and software company Wizie will open a new location in Windsor eventually creating up to 120 new jobs in an announcement to be made Wednesday morning by the Windsor-Essex Development Commission, the Star has learned.
Wizie lends support to the travel industry including airlines, hotels and car rentals by providing fare data, ticketing services and reservations.
The company's new Windsor location will initially begin with about 15 employees focused on research and development operations on the second floor of Windsor Airport. It is expected to grow by adding support staff that will hopefully lead to a workforce of about 120 within three to fours years, according one source familiar with today's announcement."
I would have mentioned Globalive Communications' call centre except the Undevelopment Commission seemed to have no role in bringing them here and it looks like they actually will have jobs brought here right away:
- "Globalive approached the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, which suggested Windsor and which will provide a few thousand dollars of annual funding for 30 to 40 per cent of employees."
Of course, who could forget:
- "WEDC has close to 20 projects in the pipeline… Details on potential projects must necessarily be held in confidence."
I happened to see this announcement on the Internet:
- "These Canadian communities are ranked amongst world's brightest.
An impressive four Canadian cities are in the running this year [for the the honour of being named the world's most intelligent community - a prize awarded annually by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF)]- Kenora, Edmonton, Fredericton, and Moncton. Each community has faced down the challenge of a traditional economy in decline by transforming the way business is down. By using technology as a focus for democratizing the population, attracting outside investment, and creating new jobs, they are jumping the hurdles of the 21st century.
But before they can boast the title of smartest city, they'll have to withstand an intensive vetting process from the forum. This year's winner will be the city that does the best job of providing broadband Internet access, has shown an ability to innovate, and has created a citizen workforce of knowledge workers.
Remember the stuff we were fed before we learned that Sutherland was just a call centre:
- "The source said people are mistaken if they assume this is just another minimum wage call centre involving "those people who call you at 6 p.m. while you're having dinner to try to sell you merchandise."
He said the operation will involve starting wages in the $12 to $15 range and those hired will require extensive training so they know "the ins-and-outs of every item manufactured" and can offer immediate assistance when a client's customers call...
What's exciting about this, said the source, is that the thousand jobs could be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. If all goes well here and certain contracts are landed, the workforce could explode. He likened it to the modest beginnings of the car industry in Windsor.
How about this in November, 2006:
- "Mayor Eddie Francis said he knows for a fact that other IT companies will follow this industry pattern setter to Windsor. "We just catapulted ahead of any other jurisdiction trying to enter the knowledge-based economy," said Francis."
I am not knocking call centres nor the companies who are moving here. The more the merrier as far as I am concerned because there will be a segment of the population who can work there.
However, these are hardly the high paying IT jobs of the future that will lead to economic diversification of our City and lead us to the technology promised land. This is not the knowledge-based industry some would have us believe we were going to get but rather low-level call center and tech support jobs.
If you want to understand who Windsor is competing against, here are descriptions of the four Canadian cities who are in the running for the ICF prize and how each of them are described:
- Edmonton, Alberta
The capital of Alberta, Edmonton is also the staging point for booming oilsand projects and diamond mining. Challenged to diversify an economy founded on resources and government, Edmonton (a 2008 Smart21) is partnering with its top universities, investing in wireless and fiber, and promoting knowledge transfer to power business growth. Its partnership with the University of Alberta has spun out more than 70 active companies, while a robust health industry has opened a state-of-the-art nursing school and cardiac institute. New provincial and national institutes are also making Edmonton a leader in nanotech research and manufacturing.
- Fredericton, New Brunswick
For most of its history, government and education were the economic mainstays of Fredericton, capital of New Brunswick Province and a 2008 Top Seven. The downsizing of government in the 1980s pushed public servants into the market, who unexpectedly formed a well-educated entrepreneurial class. When it could not get broadband from the private sector to meet their needs, Fredericton founded the e-Novations coop, which deployed a fiber ring that spurred competition, giving the city a 70% penetration rate at speeds of up to 18 Mbps. The next step was the Fred-eZone wireless network, which provides free WiFi service across 65% of the city. The combination of broadband, entrepreneurship and Fredericton's universities has powered the creation of over 12,000 jobs in science parks, research centers and incubators, and engendered a strong culture of use for broadband in daily life.
- Kenora, Ontario
Kenora is in "cottage country," where seasonal residents double the population in the summer. But the decline of forestry decimated the non-tourism economy, causing Kenora's best and brightest young people to leave town. In response, Kenora launched a Web portal strategy to leverage its 80% penetration rate for wired and wireless broadband. The goals were to make Kenora even more attractive to part-timers and visitors by providing anytime-anywhere access to services, while also supporting local business and building a broadband culture of use. Through the portal, visitors and seasonal residents can reserve facility, apply for permits and learn what's going on in town. Businesses create their own Web sites with e-commerce capabilities and promote tourism through GIS-enabled interactive search. Community groups build Web sites, recruit volunteers, solicit donations and collaborate online.
- Moncton, New Brunswick
Twenty years ago, the Moncton region was a former railroad and industrial hub facing a doubtful future. Strong leadership in the municipalities of Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview focused on information and communications technology as key to the future. Since then, this bilingual community has become a major Canadian customer contact and back office center, and built a "near-shore" IT outsourcing industry. Private-sector carriers have collaborated in the city's growth as a telecom-centric economy, and helped power the addition of 20,000 new jobs since the early 1990s, largely in management, finance, health services, technology and education. Moncton is now leveraging this success with a Vision 2010 plan. It calls for partnership with regional universities to deepen the region's knowledge economy, diversifying its IT economy into new sectors, and actively promoting tech-based entrepreneurship.
Given that the song and dance given by the Commission at the session with respect to their 10 month unsuccessful journey to find a CEO and their next trip which will take at least three or four more months at least, does anyone really believe that we ought to be looking to them for leadership for anything.
There is another reason for the cheerleading for THIS failed Undevelopment Commission. What it is, I am not certain yet. However, I suspect it has to do with Eddie's $100M now reduced to $60M Investment Fund that he wants them to control. But who knows with this most secretive of cities.