WEEDC, local businesses target attracting, retaining talent
'Last year it was difficult to attract talent'
It's economic development week in Windsor-Essex and the organization responsible for development is focusing on business expansion and retention through a survey.
Stephen Mackenzie, CEO of Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation said in order for WEEDC to help its companies be successful, they have to know what's going on.
"That includes what's going well and things they might have challenges with," said Mackenzie.
Dainty Foods Inc. employs 80 Windsorites. The family-owned business is participating in the business expansion and retention survey organized by WEEDC.
CEO Richard de Palmas of Dainty Foods Inc. said knowing how other companies are doing gives them a benchmark.
"It's important to know where you stand compared to others," said de Palmas. Dainty Foods is participating in the survey this year for the first time.
"Last year it was difficult to attract talent," said de Palmas. "This year it's more dynamic."
de Palmas said this year, more people seem willing to "take a risk" on a smaller business — and Dainty Foods is hoping to invest $3-5 million in the next few years in the business.
"We feel that it's going in the right direction," said de Palmas. One of the focuses for Dainty Foods is upgrading its plant equipment, to add more high-tech machines that make better product.
The Dainty Foods brand also hopes to be more responsible in its sourcing and milling procedures, as well as get involved in the Windsor-Essex community.
"In 2019, we want to open the factory to schools and prepare content to explain what rice souring, milling and packaging is to [different ages]," said de Palmas. "We also want to kick off a zero-landfill project for 2021."
Mackenzie said a lot of talent moved away from Windsor-Essex after the economic downturn of 2009.
"So when the economy turned around that pool of labour wasn't there," said Mackenzie. "There might be an image issue but we're working hard to dispel that."
de Palmas said business management is an "adventure," and said you "can't miss the bus" as times changes.
"We want to count for something," said de Palmas. "It's going to be a long-term challenge, but we are happy to commit to those."
With files from Chris Ensing and Tahmina Aziz