Monday, April 11, 2005

Return to Windsor

I had a great time in Windsor last week. I was there to MC the Ontario Global Traders awards program for southwest Ontario on April 7 – a terrific program that recognizes unheralded small and medium-sized businesses for their achievements in exporting. You can read about the winners here.

My favorite story? The three apple producers who, despite competing tooth and nail with each other in Ontario, worked together to sell $2 million worth of apples to Mexico. Opportunity bears many forms, and not always the most intuitive.

I also enjoyed meeting with some economic development people from Windsor and Essex County to discuss a launch event for a new small business advisory board they are planning for Windsor. As a town built on the Auto Pact and unionized labour, Windsor has some adjusting to do for the 21st century. I’m not impressed with Solution No. 1 (big-ass casino to wring money out of gamblers from Michigan and Ohio). It’s encouraging to see the city planners taking an entrepreneurial approach, and looking for ways to stimulate initiative and self-employment in the City of Roses.

As you may know, I’m an alum of the University of Windsor, so I had a good time wandering the campus late Wednesday afternoon. It was 78 degrees (forgive me my Fahrenheit), and the mood was pure summer – students had taken their couches out of their living rooms and posted them on the lawns. It was good to see so much unchanged – the shabby gentility of Dillon Hall, pickup basketball games in the centre of campus, and the friendly cafeteria in the student centre (classier furniture now, though, and better food).

The disappointment was The Lance – the student newspaper I edited back in 1978. As you might expect, it looks a darn sight better than it used to, but all the fancy colour, graphics and explicit sexual content can’t disguise the scarcity of news writing and reporting. Much like the mainstream media, I guess – both newspapers and TV.

Next stop on the Global Traders tour: Ajax!
(The city, not the cleanser.)

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