Celebrate. Recognize. Revitalize. Thursday, October 15, 2015

Join us for the Inaugural Fête Accomplie hosted by the Accelerator at the City Grill on October 15, 2015. This event will bring together Windsor’s entrepreneurial community and its supporters to help fuel the entrepreneurial growth taking root in Windsor.

‘One key to entrepreneurial success is to get a great group of people around you who believe in your idea.’ - Richard Branson

Creating a vibrant entrepreneurial city takes time and more importantly it takes the right people. The reality is that most cities face huge economic and competitive challenges and for the most part they are on their own. Fortunately, over the past decade there has been a significant trend whereby passionate business and entrepreneurial leaders are taking action and investing in their cities’ entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Windsor has a rich entrepreneurial history, but it now finds itself at a crossroad. It consistently boasts the highest unemployment in the country and many of our brightest youth are leaving the city to pursue opportunities elsewhere. The economic woes of Windsor stand in stark contrast with Windsor’s nearly unparalleled geographic advantage and its recent ranking as number 2 Top 10 Small North American Cities of the Future by Foreign Direct Investment Strategy Magazine. Clearly there is a large disconnect between the opportunity and our ability to capitalize on it.

So how can Windsor capitalize on this opportunity? Is there something we can learn from our closest neighbour, Detroit, which has faced more hardship but has been able to rebound in a remarkable way?

One of the keys to Detroit’s success has been their focus on entrepreneurship as strategy to recreate their local economy. This was only made possible with large investments from individuals such as Dan Gilbert, who recognized Detroit’s potential when most had given up hope. A crucial part of that strategy has been investment in business incubators and accelerators in order to transform the downtown into a hub of innovation where entrepreneurs both work and live.

Windsor has similar potential and needs to be more than a retirement city. We need to make our city attractive to startups and continue to build on the entrepreneurial success of the Accelerator.

Over the past three and a half years the Accelerator has been responsible for creating more than 230 direct jobs and has created an economic impact of nearly $5 million in 2014 alone. To date, we have introduced more than 2,000 local high school students to entrepreneurial programs and will be hosting the Second Annual High School Entrepreneurship Summit this year. Additionally, we have initiated Windsor’s first female entrepreneurial networking series – Windsor Women Accelerate (WWA) – dedicated to connecting successful local female entrepreneurs to aspiring local female entrepreneurs.

Looking forward, the Accelerator has very ambitious plans. Our intent to move to 596 Ouellette will have the Accelerator closer to the downtown core in a building with much greater visibility (Ouellette and Wyandotte). The new building will provide a larger footprint and a superior space layout, allowing us to support more clients, host more events, and significantly increase our revenues for programming and client support.

One of our major goals is to develop the local talent pool and make entrepreneurship accessible to people in Windsor-Essex. Entrepreneurship, while not for everyone, is becoming an increasingly attractive option, particularly for youth. A recent article by Maclean’s Magazine suggests that Generation Z (people age 19 and under) is very entrepreneurial with 72% of young people wanting to start their own business.

Toward these goals, we have developed a marketing strategy to aggressively promote the Accelerator and Windsor as a destination for startup founders who want access to a location that provides everything they need to succeed and expand their business. Findings in a new report from Endeavor Insight (2014) reveal that startup founders are not looking for low-tax and favorable regulation as many local governments tout, but instead they require the following four things:

  • Talented workers
  • Quality of life
  • Location near a major transportation network (airport, highways, train, etc.)
  • Proximity to consumers and suppliers

Windsor provides all the above, that is why so many of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people choose to live in Windsor. It is now time for that community to come together and support the Accelerator in building the next generation of entrepreneurs. Let us work together to revitalize Windsor and make it a great Canadian success story.

Join us at the Inaugural Fête Accomplie on October 15, 2015, at the City Grill as we bring together Windsor’s entrepreneurial community and its supporters. Be a part of creating Windsor’s future with us as we celebrate the success of our entrepreneurs, recognize the strengths of our city, and revitalize our city’s future.

Thank you from the Accelerator Fundraising Committee:

Chair: Julie Roy

Committee: Arthur Barbut, Sarah Beveridge, Amanda Gellman, Michael Pescke, Catherine Poku