Windsor is losing part of its future. Statistics show young people are leaving the city at an alarming rate.

Between 2003 and 2008, Windsor had a net migration loss of  more than 6,600 people between the ages 18 and 44.

Those numbers equate to missed opportunities and untapped economic potential for the city, according to the regional economic development corporation. 

"We really need to be diligent about tapping into ... our youth," said Karolyn Hart of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation. "And we want them to know that we are excited you're here and we are here to work along side of you. We want to ... unleash you and we want that to happen here."

Join the Conversation This is the third story in CBC Windsor's No Place Like Home series, an in-depth local look at the city's generation Y.

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Several local groups are working together to stop the brain drain. 

A group called GenNext organized a gathering of young professionals earlier this week. It was a chance for young, ambitious professionals to network and discuss how to better engage the community.

A group called Workforce Windsor-Essex is busy trying to link young people with local jobs so they don't get away.

"You want people

[here] during the age when they are forming a household because that's when they've got to buy the house all the baby stuff and they're buying their career wardrobes," Donna Marentette of Workforce Windsor-Essex said.

Karolyn Hart says surveys show generation Y is a largely entrepreneurial group and small business is the back bone of the economy.

'We really need to be diligent about tapping into ... our youth.' — Karolyn Hart, Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation

"They like to create their own destiny," Hart said. "So one of the things we're looking at is, in conjunction with our small business enterprise centre, is how do we tap into that and and [make them] really understand that in Windsor-Essex, this is a great place if you're an entrepreneur to test it, to be here and to get out there and do those things."

That's precisely what Ben Davidson did. Davidson doesn't just work at Green Bean Cafe. He owns it.

"When this opportunity presented itself we just started dreaming and thinking about what it could look like and making a business plan and drawing out the space and we got excited," Davidson said.


Green Bean Cafe is a successful small business built by young, energetic entrepreneurs. (CBC News)

Davidson said Windsor's low rent, low cost of living and lower housing prices, some of the lowest in the country, means young people can take bigger business risks.

Davidson moved to Windsor from northern Ontario at 16. He eventually fell in love with the city. But it took a while.

"To be honest my plan was,  when we moved here,  was that as soon as I'm done school or as soon as I get the chance, I'm out of here," the university grad said.

He's now confident more millennials will eventually stay.

"There's a momentum in the city right now. There are young people doing things in the city," he said from his bustling cafe. You're going to come and talk to other people in a couple of years and say, 'how is it that so many people are choosing to come to this city?'"

A report found Windsor has lost 6,600 people between the ages of 18 and 44 since 2003

With files from Allison Johnson