The dreamers got together again for a forum on January 27, regarding the city’s economic future. It was the traditional gabfest with all the same stuff heard in these parts over and over again.
Yet no one, it seems, has any interest in pointing fingers. For far too many years, the local economic development unit has sat idle, run by abecedarians who know naught what to do. Instead of fixing the foundation problem, the movers and shakers shook it up and, when the pretence ended, nothing had changed.
The local paper, on January 29, after taking a few days to digest it all, called it a think tank bringing together a group of people who largely have never met a payroll. It included 35 politicians, executives, entrepreneurs, business and labour organizations, and academics.
As unbelievable as it sounds, they will now, volunteer their efforts, which simply means the paid help will get another excuse to do little. All the signals signal that, like usual, nothing will come of this exercise in futility, other than the publicity it generated for the usual publicity hungry suspects.
Volunteers are nice, but economic development can’t be run on their backs. It needs talented, experienced people who know what to do and who quietly go about doing it to achieve results.
That is what happens in so many other cities, but Windsor just doesn’t get it.
Windsor suffers from an inert group of local politicians who bend over backwards to kill any chance of economic renewal. They are led by an inept, hapless mayor who chases glitz, just like his predecessor, and is bound and determined to simply rob the city of its resources.
It is a council sitting idle while the city is hollowed out.
The most recent move is to merge its two central hospitals into a farmer’s bean field that will require urban sprawl, further draining the downtown and costing millions to service. In the end, Windsor will not be a city, but a collection if disparate parts flung around all over the place; exactly what other cities are rebelling against.
The most telling clue of how off-the-track these economic development wannabees are is this quote from the local paper attributed to former auto parts maker Nick Marentette.
Deals are done sometimes before they’re signed.
And that is why Windsor is failing.
No one is using their smarts to track and identify deals in the waiting. Surely Marentette knows the finer aspects of business. Business decisions are made upon the fundamentals of operating a business. The reality is, Windsor, with its high tax regime and out of control council spending on flash in the pan questionable glamour, is just too light on the fundamentals. And, until that is corrected, nothing will change.
No gabfest will produce the results the city aches for. Taxpayers are the suckers in all of this, paying through the nose and getting nothing in return. What is most amusing is Marentette being held out as a guy whose calls are answered.
It is the biggest falsehood of business. The is no way around the immutable fact that the spoils go to the victors who do not have people taking their calls, but who are smart enough, and good enough, to penetrate the walls around critical decision making executives.
Marentette boasts that relationships in business are everything. If only it were that easy.
Wasn’t the reason the city was bamboozled by failed economic development leader Sandra Pupatello was because of her one heck of a Rolodex, a mechanical device for holding business cards? Did she not prove all of her relationships did nothing for the region?
But, with this new lack of initiative, it is déjà vu all over again. Sure, some kind-hearted people will chase their dog’s tails and yak about what to do which, sadly, is no substitute for the required heavy lifting.
The solution is so simple.
End the experiment of hiring neophytes to do economic development. Why can’t anyone else see that?
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.