Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, December 04, 2009

New WEDC Head Should Not Unpack Too Soon

Welcome to Ron Gaudet, the new WEDC head honcho.

If he can do for Windsor what he did for Moncton, then we will all be very pleased at his coming.

I am not being mean or harsh by what I said in the Subject-line. The WEDC front door is the fastest moving revolving door in the City considering how many heads it has seen over the last few years.

To be direct, I expect a clash very early on betwen our new so-called "Star" WEDC CEO, one of Canada's Top 40 under 40 and our, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Mayor.

Where Edgar (aka) Eddie dreams THINK BIG visions with his mind's eye as his alternative to actually doing something, Mr. Gaudet has a different attitude:

  • "Atlantic Baptist University's growth in recent years has been no secret, but plans to expand to accommodate more students and programs have been kept quiet until now.

    The university's directors met this weekend to agree upon a $22-million to $24-million plan to add a student residence, an arena, and a new administration and education building that will address the campus' current capacity constraints.

    The university's vice-president for advancement, Ron Gaudet, said work could begin as soon as this summer.

    "This is all about growing to meet a demand as opposed to a field of dreams," said Gaudet."

Edgar may have to watch what he has said about some pet issues since Mr. Gaudet has been involved in many similar ones in Moncton in actually doing something not just pontificating

  • Helping a University grow dramatically with a new development

  • arenas in needed parts of the City

  • airport expansion and the need to access the US market thereby putting Ms. Nazzani at risk

  • transportation hub

  • "how to save a badly planned, dying downtown in a city once dominated by a single industry"

  • forming an economic link between former Maritime rivals that co-operation among communities is the best way to foster growth: "the corridor will unite the two cities, as well as all the communities in between them, into one economic region."

  • "share information and work together, instead of bidding against each other and buying jobs with incentives."

  • "a contaminated eyesore in the core of the city" will now become "one of the hallmarks of the region."

  • using call centres as a basis for prosperity.

I do have a concern about Mr. Gaudet. Windsor is NOT Moncton. We do not have NBTel. In fact, we did have Maxess as part of Enwin

  • "MaXess Networx, Inc. is a fibre-based telecommunication carrier. It provides broadband telecommunication service that delivers network bandwidth to business and public-sector organizations in Southwestern Ontario. The company also provides LAN extension, Internet access, private line, co-locate, and hosting services. MaXess Networx, Inc. serves commercial, industrial, municipal, health, and education sectors."

It could have been the core of a major communications system for us, our own Telco, but Enwin sold it off to Cogeco.

Mr. Gaudet built Moncton based on call centres. We have had problems with ours here and they have certainly not taken off as Edgar predicted. Moreover, there is much more competition than before from other cities and the slightest hint of union organizing could result in their end here quickly:

  • "What's changed since 1990 is that 43 call centres have been set up in Moncton. These large office complexes house 6,500 employees who spend their eight-hour shifts answering phone queries from across Canada and around the world. Call centres were the brain child of Moncton and provincial officials looking to save the city after the CN layoffs in 1990. The first thing they did was take stock of the city's assets. NBTel Inc., the provincial telephone utility, had already given Moncton a sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure. The city also had a largely bilingual workforce that was hungry for jobs. As well, the two area universities -- Mount Allison University and l'Universite de Moncton -- provided a supply of educated technicians, engineers and managers.

    Within three years, Purolator Courier Ltd., Federal Express Corp. and the Royal Bank of Canada had opened shop. This past February, Rogers Communications Inc. also announced plans to build a state-of-the-art facility in Moncton that will employ 700. The trick now, says Ron Gaudet, president and CEO of the Greater Moncton Economic Commission Inc., is to push development beyond call centres: "We don't ever want to be where we were with CN, where one sector so dominated that we were vulnerable."

What Mr. Gaudet will focus on in Windsor I do not know. I will suggest that transportation and our location may well be the key. Unlike our Mayor, he should not be afraid to phone Matty Moroun.

I wish him the best of luck. Because we need it badly. And so will he.