Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator open for business

The Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator officially opened for, well, business Tuesday.

Facility focuses on growing small businesses into larger ones

The Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator officially opened for, well, business Tuesday.

The accelerator is a not-for-profit organization created in Windsor's downtown core to incubate and encourage the growth of small and emerging businesses.

The accelerator was founded by the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association and furnished and equipped with a $678,000 grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency.

Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson, who attended and spoke at the grand opening, called the accelerator "a critical investment" in the "knowledge economy," which he called the economic future.

"Our government is very interested in the economy of the future," Watson said. "What we created, essentially, is a place where great ideas can come together and create small businesses that will one day become big businesses."

The accelerator focuses on a cluster of knowledge- and technology-based startup companies.

"We spawned an auto industry and that takes creativity and innovation," Watson said of Windsor. "It’s critical we continue to diversify the economy, particularly in Southwestern Ontario."

Wissam Aoun is an intellectual property lawyer based at the accelerator. He's counselled new companies and also received marketing and technological advice from businesses who share the office space at 720 Ouellette Ave., home to the accelerator.

"Windsor has an abundance of technological knowledge, but the infrastructure was lacking in order to assist in commercializing innovation," Aoun said.

Five tenants occupy the 7,000-square-foot office. And there is room to grow.

Virginia Cosco-Pizzuti, char of the DTWBIA, called the accelerator the first step in eventually filling the high vacancy rate in the city's core.

"We created an environment where entrepreneurs can come and start up businesses and get to the point where they can migrate to the core and fill more spaces," Cosco-Pizzuti said.