Victoria Day. Victoria Day coincides also with Canada's official birthday and, like Memorial Day in America, officially marks the beginning of the summer season. But how many American's know that, let alone folks from Michigan and specifically Detroit.
Detroit is located just .65 miles (1.05 KM) north of Windsor. In fact, siting in my office overlooking Windsor, I often get text messages from Verizon saying I am now in Canada and roaming charges will apply when I have not moved from my desk in America.
As I walked to work this morning, I noticed the unusual traffic at The Detroit Windsor Tunnel, of Canadian's coming into Detroit, Mich. Where would their final destination be? The Somerset Collection? The Motor City Casino, MGM or Greektown Casino? A metropark? Or the Detroit Zoo?
Regardless of their financial destination, were we in Detroit marketing to them? For the past few weeks, I have been learning about a variety of Memorial Day sales or things to do on Memorial Day weekend, but what have we been doing to promote our products, our shops, restaurants and destinations to our Canadian neighbors?
According to a SEMCOG study, 455,000 Canadian's visited the Detroit area in 2008, spending on average $69 per day. Drive the parking decks at The Somerset Collection or the parking lots at Target and Costco in Madison Heights, and you will be surprised to see the number of Ontario plates.
Why is it, that our neighbors know so much more about us, then we do about them. Is it because we are the larger metropolitan area and that they consider us a part of their region, and yet we do not consider them a part of ours?
As Detroit continues to find its niche, to re-establish itself in the global marketplace and to move forward, we must embrace our Canadian friends and neighbors. Let us begin to collaborate, to integrate and to incubate new opportunities together. But first, we must get to know our Canadian neighbors, to understand their culture, be respectful of their countries traditions and to explore opportunities for stronger engagement.
To our Canadian friends, we wish you a Happy Victoria Day and a great summer ahead of each of us.