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How Do We Keep Young People in Windsor-Essex, Town Hall Asks

Wednesday November 30th, 2011, 1:45pm


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On a dreary Tuesday evening in the pouring rain, Windsor residents packed the Capital theater for CBCs town hall on how to revitalize the city.

The town hall was focused on Millennials, the generation of people that came of age during the turn of the millennium. With the manufacturing sector a shell of what it once was in Windsor, the youth of the city are the largest demographic leaving to other places in the country.

Of the speakers at the town hall who included persons such as city councilor Al Maghnieh, University Assistant Professor Vincent Georgie, Mayor Eddie Francis and more, the general consensus is that the city needs young people to stay after high school and post secondary to diversify the job market by being entrepreneurs starting businesses of their own.

“I’ve lived in big cities and for me it’s done. I’ve spent enough years standing in my bathtub to brush my teeth because my bathroom is too small” said Vincent Georgie speaking about the high cost of living for little space in big cities. Windsor’s low rent provides the opportunity for anyone to start a business with a relatively low risk.

In 2007 lofts above the Beer Market were being rented in the $1500 range, now they are below $700. In the past Windsor was primarily driven by the automotive sector and there was little diversity in the local economy with the exception of the nightlife that greatly catered to Americans from across the boarder. With that sector weakened by closed factories what, as little as 5 years ago, would have seemed like a crazy idea to diversify the local economy now is being encouraged.

“I find it abnormally easy to do things in this city. It’s just simply a matter of finding the right people.” said Georgie “Projects I can get off the ground here would take actually infinitely longer in places like Toronto not because of resources but because of access to the right stakeholders.” Turning the city’s economy around isn’t without its challenges though.

Shane Potvin, a Windsor graphic artist, who attended the meeting voiced his concerns outside the Capital. “It’s hard for entrepreneurs to start their business because there’s not much money.” said Potvin “If you’re a business that needs capital just to get it off the ground no bank will touch you, they won’t give you money unless you have equal that in equity.” Audience texting and Twittering was encouraged at the town hall.

Tweets were displayed on a screen hanging above the stage for everyone to see. There will be broadcast of the nights events thursday and friday morning on CBC radios The Early Shift.

Guest Article By Jay Verspeelt

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