(WINDSOR, ON) – Not surprising, there will be no decisive action on economic development by ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens. In his passive manner, he managed to stare down the challenge of doing better and elected to not only window dress the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC), but to reduce its workload.
In a less than masterful stroke, it appears it will now be excused from enticing new factories to settle in the region.
As the local paper reported December 12, WEEDC’s neophytes will be allowed to narrow their efforts to a, “… focus on local start-ups and expansion, instead of going after the big fish that are hard to land.”
Certainly the big fish, which bring hundreds of direct jobs and many indirect ones, are hard to land because it takes bone-crushing, unadulterated effort. True to form, this seems to be something Dilkens does not understand and it suggests he has no leadership mettle.
His acceptance of mediocrity just follows a pattern he set, while running council’s standing committee on economic development into the ground. It was also quite evident during his less than stellar effort to revamp the local tourism office.
There, he took a giant step backward by also reducing the workload of the hired help, when removing their responsibility for attracting convention business to the region. This was nothing but a rap on the knuckles to the local convention industry, which pays taxes but now gets nothing in return.
Dilkens seems so willing to reward lack of performance, it was reported that the contract of the outfit’s current leader, Rakesh Naidu, will be renewed for another six months. Naidu has bragged publicly about his own lack of training and skills in economic development, yet he will remain at the helm, but with less to do, apparently.
With his pretence abilities honed sharply, Dilkens pretended better days are coming, declaring that, henceforth, things are going to be different and the developers will concentrate on, “… proper reporting out and metrics and measurement and performance.”
But, is that really what is going to happen?
Possibly. But, what good is an economic development organization crippled by leaders with no experience and a new mandate to do less?
Even the news of what the developers have done is anaemic.
This year, they are proudly boasting of helping to, “… create more than 900 jobs locally, thanks to small-business start-ups, expanded local companies, and outside investment.” There was no breakdown offered as to the nature of these jobs, nor the amount of outside investment.
So much for transparency.
A clue, because it is mentioned first, is many were probably the small-business start-ups. Often, these are personal service companies such as a hairdresser opening a new beauty salon. These companies are dependent on a prosperous and growing economy, something Windsor does not have.
Otherwise, the danger is they simply add more competition to the market and reduce the overall return for all other beauticians. The only way to get around this is to focus on bringing high paying, high skilled jobs to the city, typical of the employment offered by large factories, thus expanding the market.
To allow the developers to sit idle on this key aspect of economic development is scandalous.
The city and region need a robust, full-throttled economic development program. Not one that excuses those responsible from, “… going after the big fish that are hard to land.”
Abdication is never a substitute for hard work.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.