A region just north of Detroit saw a problem and created a collaborative effort to create, adopt and implement a five-year regional economic roadmap.  During the process of creating the strategic plan, more than 400 stakeholders were asked to identify their top two priorities for the local economic development corporation to tackle.  Earlier this month, the Windsor-Essex (Ontario, Canada) Economic Development Corporation announced their five-year plan at a Windsor-Essex Chamber luncheon. The communities, including government, labor, business and acadamia, collaborated and everyone made a commitment to change.

Since the Windsor Essex collaboration began in 2010, 1,862 new jobs were created, $73 million in investments were made, 6,069 jobs were saved and 28,092 small business inquiries were made.  To find those numbers in Southeastern Michigan, one would have to contact Automation Alley, the DEGC, the Detroit Regional Chamber, Ann Arbor Spark, TechTown, Velocity, and others.  Unlike our Canadian neighbors, our region continues to be fragmented and polarizing.

As a result of their efforts, Windsor has gained international attention for its efforts, seeing such headlines as:

  • “Top 7 intelligent community of the year”(Intelligent Community Forum)
  • Windsor-Essex to lead nation’s economy Growth (Conference Board of Canada)
  • Top 5 Best Places to Invest (site Selection)
  • Canada’s auto capital named city of the future (CBC news)
  • Mini Motown Finds there is life after autos (Calgary Bean, 3.20.11)

Last week, the Business Leaders for Michigan announced their turnaround plan for the State of Michigan. A great plan that any lawmaker could pick up and start using. While it is a great plan, we need the input of all the interested parties, labor, university and others, if we are to truly implement an agenda that we can all agree on and start moving forward with.

In addition, Detroit's business leaders, if not those throughout the state of Michigan, need to reach out to Windsor’s business leaders. We need to collaborate across borders and work collectively for the good of our region, as a region.