Developing a Thriving Economy in Southwestern Ontario

A number of factors contribute to the state of a region’s economy, and without a doubt, education, small business potential, and tourism are crucial.

Let’s start on a high note with tourism. Southwestern Ontario has a lot to offer our visitors! The natural landscape alone is enough to generate some interest, plus Point Pelee National Park is a huge draw, especially for avid bird watchers and those fascinated by the migrating monarch butterflies. And we can’t forget about all the quaint waterside getaways, the stunning winding roads, ideal for motorcycle trips, and the large number of delicious culinary tours. Hands down, Southwestern Ontario is one of Canada’s hidden gems with regards to travel destinations.

But what about education? Two years ago, Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI), an organization dedicated to creating a better understanding of urbanism, global prosperity, and economic growth, released a report about five rural regions of Ontario. MPI discovered that rural areas of Ontario lack convenient access to postsecondary education and suffers from “brain drain.” If a student of a rural Ontario area decides to attend postsecondary school, it is likely that they will have to either travel hours every day or move to an urban area. MPI found that once students moved for school, it was unlikely that they would return to their hometown after gaining new knowledge and experience from college or university. That’s what brain drain is; the region’s youngest, most educated people are leaving because there are more career opportunities in urban areas. As we learned recently, many universities offer courses online and YouTube EDU and Discovery Education Canada are amazing online resources.

This is where small business comes in. So many small businesses these days require high-speed Internet to be successful. Our recent interview with Kelly Lavhey of Agronomy Advantage showed us how a regionally relevant, technologically forward company is being held back by their lack of connection. The lack of connection also makes it difficult for farmers to operate their own businesses. Another example is Jared Walpole of Elgin County who has to drive all the way to his son’s home in Toronto in order to send large music files for his home business.

The solution to Southwestern Ontario’s business and education issues is an affordable fibre-optic network. It’s what we need to develop a thriving economy. Our region has so much to offer tourists, it’s time the residents received some much deserved attention and appreciation with a reliable, high speed Internet connection.

Feature image via ontariossouthwest.com