Monday, Oct 19th, we welcomed Stephen Mackenzie, President & Chief Executive Officer at Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation. Stephen presented to the group about the work they are doing to help businesses navigate Covid-19 by implementing the Covid task force, facilitating surveys, and speaking with officials.  

He spoke about initiatives like YQG Stand Strong and how well the community rallied together to support local!

Initially, the most substantial hit from the pandemic was retail. Still, as those stores transitioned online, today, bars and nightclubs feel the most significant impacts from Covid and continue to struggle.
Many business owners know that they need to adapt and change their businesses and their leadership to survive. Survey results show that 78% of respondents said they need to change the way they lead, and 76% said they needed to adopt technology.

Stephen also touched on how the pandemic is affecting different genders. The impact on women has been more severe. Survey results show that women feel more exhausted by added responsibilities both at work and at home.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Information technology has boomed in various industries. Still, retail and tourism and hospitality were among the slowest to adopt tech.

Stephen explained that buying patterns remain high because people are back to hoarding since they’re anticipating a second wave. Banking remains high because questions are being asked like “If I go bankrupt, what will I do.” Meanwhile, 40% of retailers feel they may need to close if this pandemic remains for another 6 months.

Government assistance is available to help retailers transition online; hopefully, the aid will avoid closures.

Looking ahead, the Agri-food industry will continue to look for stability and adapt the way that they do business. However, despite the challenges, the demand has stayed high for our food industry.
They have launched the Respond, Restart and Recover Program to support the tourism and hospitality industry to encourage hyper-local tourism. But the industry as a whole really depends on getting a vaccine before they can fully reopen.

There is hope for the future with programs like the Project Arrow and Virtual Reality Cave, but the next few months will be key for Windsor-Essex. To get the most up to date information, Workforce Windsor-Essex publishes reports on the first of every month about the previous month, but the trends show promising projections.