The Greater Windsor Essex Home Builders Association, along with the Windsor Essx County Real Estate Board & the Windsor Essex County Development Commission have teamed up to promote this area as a retirement community. After securing about $30,000 in seed money from the Province of Ontario, they have launced a website www.retirehere.caand have begun to plan a marketing initative to start promoting the area to Canadian Seniors.
I am a member of two of these organizations- The Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board (WECREB), and Greater Windsor Home Builder Association (GWHBA), and I think the idea is pure genius.
Not just because my father Remo Valente- came up with this very idea over 20 years ago. Over family dinners, with relatives down from Toronto- he would speak tirelessly about how it was silly for them to have these expensive homes in Toronto, and battle the traffic day after day. They should sell their homes in Toronto, buy a similar or better home in Windsor and Essex County- put hundreds of thousands of dollars in their pocket, and start living the good life here off of the profits.
What would they be giving up ? If they responded with “Oh, I could never give up the big city life“- he would be quick to point out that just 10 minutes accross the border is Detroit Michigan. We have the all the top sports teams (our hockey team does’t suck either), and they would have access to major transportation hubs, like Detroit Metro Airport. They could still live minutes from the best shopping in the world and all of the things that make living in a big city great- but the best part is you would be living in Windsor. Our city enjoys a lows crime rate, our trains cause only 10 minute traffic jams, we have some of the cheapest Real Estate of all of the top Canadian Citys, access to the Great Lakes, and being the most southern part of Canada- ” The best climate in the Country!”
Our company even tried to pump this idea two years ago. This was just before the Windsor Home Builders plan was concieved. We decided to launch a website, www.retiresouth.ca. We spent some money on some flashy marketing and distributed it to a few Toronto Neighbourhoods. After doing this we learned that an initiatve to convince Torontonians or other Canadians to pick up and retire to Windsor was beyond our means as a small business. This branding, or marketing would have to be done on a large scale.
That is why we’re so pleased that these Windsor Organizations have took on the job. What is disappointing is the level of finacial commitment the project has been able to secure. The $30,000 seed money, put up by the Province of Ontario is a small start, but we need some major dollars behind this project to make this happen. Windsor has been said to have lost 30,000 jobs over the last few years, and with thet Automotive sector in a tail spin- this is only going to get worse before it gets better.
However its my belief that The City of Windsor and Essex County Municipalities, and even gasp The Province of Ontario should be putting big dollars behind this. They just secured $3 Million in funding for the Red Bull Races- which we are told will generate a spin off of $50 Million for local business over the weekend. That’s great news, but after that weekend how does it pump our economy ??
Lets look at the return on spending $3 Million on marketing our region to smart retirees? If successful we could be generating the local home builders another 2000 of annual construction starts per year- which would be an $600,000,000 into our local economy ANNUALLY! This does not take into account all of the dollars that these Retirees would be injecting into our economy once they have set up camp in Windsor Essex County- they would spend money in our stores, restarants, casino, pharmacy, hire landscapers and pay some taxes.
I have heard the argument that the Province of Ontario is on the fence about providing Ontario taxpayers money to convince people to locate from other parts of Ontario to Windsor. I would argue that this is a nominal sum of money compared to the dollars being spent to bailout automakers, and other infrastructure projects to stimulate our economy. Windsor has been suffering for too long- while the rest of the Country is just getting their first taste of recession, Windsor has been in a full recession since late 2006.
Its time for the City of Windsor and Province of Ontario to step up to the plate and get financially and politically involved in this genius idea. This initiative alone won’t save this region- but if it’s successful it definitely offer them best return on their investment to stimulate our economy.