Guest Column: We’re coming home, home — to Windsor!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Windsor Star/SoapBox

By Eric Janssen, Special to The Star

TORONTO-We’re coming home, coming home.

After a decade living in London, Toronto, Dallas, New York and San Francisco, my wife and I are moving back home to Windsor. For our Torontonian friends, who were initially confused with our decision, it’s not difficult for us to convince them that, since we’re expecting our first child this fall, a move back closer to our families makes sense. What they don’t know is that this is only a fraction of the reason we’re moving to Windsor.

Why Windsor?

Access to talent. Organizations like WEtech Alliance, HackForge, and EPICentre are building a community that fosters entrepreneurship, innovation and collaboration by hosting events, sourcing funding and inspiring local residents and students to create businesses.

Access to space. The Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator is a vibrant co-working space designed to help accelerate the growth of emerging businesses. In Toronto, where I rent a shared workspace, I paid more for a desk than it costs for an entire office in downtown Windsor. In New York, I paid more than 10 times that.

Access to the rest of the world. From my home in Toronto to Pearson Airport takes around 30 to 45 minutes (or longer, depending on the traffic). From Windsor to Detroit Metro Airport it’s 30 minutes. Additionally, Windsor Airport now hosts Air Canada, Porter, Sunwing and WestJet, making business trips a breeze.

Activities. Every Tuesday, my wife and I alternate surprising one another with a new date idea. We’ve shared some incredible experiences but that won’t stop in Windsor.

Will I miss being able to choose between 15 different Ethiopian restaurants on a Tuesday night? Maybe, but Windsor and surrounding area has an incredible culinary scene. Windsor has some of the best Italian, Mediterranean and Lebanese food I’ve ever had.

Into good wine? Essex County is known around the world for its variety and quality of wineries in the region. Beer person? Try Walkerville Brewery or Craft Heads Brewing Company.

Essex County has as much to offer as any big city, maybe more!

Proximity to Detroit. Yes, and that’s a good thing. Detroit is a new hub of economic and entrepreneurial activity. Business leaders like Dan Gilbert and Mike Illitch are investing in the downtown core to create spaces for new businesses to thrive.
Within walking distance of the downtown core, there are fine restaurants, craft beer bars, some of the best professional sports teams on the continent and the snootiest coffee shops you can imagine.

Detroit Eastern Market is an incredible place to spend a Saturday morning, and a short drive out of the core you can find a selection of shops that competes with those on Fifth Avenue. Windsor has a lot to offer but for a small taste of all that a big city has to offer, Detroit is a stone’s throw away.
Why Windsor?

In addition to all the reasons above, Windsor offers a sense of grounding and pride and connectedness that I never felt living in other cities. It’s reasonable and affordable, and for us, we’re surrounded not just by family but also by a group of our friends who have also made the decision to move back home.

The common denominator in all of these conversations with our current friends living in Toronto is that we start with the phrase, “We’re moving back home to Windsor.”

My sincere belief is that because of all the reasons I mention above, we’re riding a wave that was created years ago, and not only will I be hearing more “we’re moving back home to Windsor,” I’ll hear more much more, “We’re moving to Windsor.”

Eric Janssen is chief revenue officer at Intellitix in Toronto