I had lunch yesterday with Charlie Wright (@cerwright on Twitter). Charlie is the deputy mayor of Leamington. Leamington certainly has been in the news in the recent past with the announcement that the 100 year old Heinz facility was being closed. Reports are that 740 jobs in that industry would be lost.
The recent good news is that the plant will be assumed by Highbury Canco and that it would require 250 people for its operations.
As could be imagined, such a big hit to any community the size of Leamington (~30 000) would have a huge impact on the community. Not only is the impact felt by those who worked in the plant, a Leamington institution for as long as I can remember, but for the farming community and the retailers throughout the town.
If those jobs are gone, what can you as a community do?
You would hope that education might provide an answer.
Another problem is that Leamington isn’t easily accessible to Windsor or Chatham, the two closest places with educational opportunities with St. Clair College and/or the University of Windsor. It’s about a 45 minute drive to either location.
You might that a distance education solution would be appropriate but, in this case, it’s not viable. So, if you can’t get to the mountain, bring the mountain there.
In partnership with St. Clair College, the town has made an educational arrangement that could be very helpful.
St. Clair College will be physically coming to town and offering a diploma program in Business Computing Applications. The program, composed of 10 courses will be offered in the evenings from 6-9:30 over the course of the year. Topics include accounting, computing applications, and more. The logic is to provide a program of marketable skills for a movement into other industries.
Apparently, there is also an interest from existing businesses to upgrade the skills of other employees.
If you check Charlie’s Twitter timeline, you’ll see that he’s been busy going from door to door promoting this offering.
This provides a unique opportunity for those affected to take control over their careers and their learning at this difficult time.
I hope that enough of the residents see this as a solution and take advantage of it.