Dragon’s Den Star Digs Deep At Dairy Freez

By Tracy Pringle

Sometimes, Dragons don’t breathe fire. Sometimes, Dragons are heroes – selfless, generous and kind.

This marks the 10th year of the International Dragon Boat races in our region. It’s also the Year of the Dragon. If you’ve never seen the Dragon Boat races – it’s an incredible sight. Twenty-two people, ordinary people, in a boat including a drummer and a coxswain (to make sure everyone is rowing in sync), all pulling together to row massive boats in Lake St. Clair in a race to the finish.

If you don’t know why anyone would want to train for weeks or months, compete when they don’t win anything for themselves, then maybe hearing that the Dragon Boats are a fundraiser for Breast Cancer will help explain. There were two race dates this year. Cancer survivors and student teams raced on July 14th and corporate teams hit the water on July 15th.

I had to tell you that, in order to tell you this.

During the month of July, the production team for “CBC – The Big Decision” is filming in our region. They are profiling two local companies who are vying for investment to grow, innovate and re-invent themselves. The investment decision will be made by Jim Treliving, also an investor on “The Dragons’ Den.”

While filming at the Dairy Freez recently I was fortunate enough to meet a local man, Brian Bacon. Brian has been doing battle not with Dragons, but with illness for his whole life. He feels fortunate because many people have extended their hands, hearts and help to him over the years and he wanted to find a way to give back. So a few years ago, he did just that by raising money to support different causes: Big Bike for Heart and Stroke; Kidney Foundation and now, Dragon Boats with his team, “Bobbin for Boobies.” Why? His mom is a breast cancer survivor, and he has struggled with kidney disease followed by a fight with brain cancer. He’s a fighter in every sense of the word.

You’d think that someone who has faced adversity and struggle like Brian would be fearless. But when he was faced with a real live Dragon at the Freez , he felt himself waver a little bit. After all, Jim Treliving is larger than life – a self-made man and television personality with a billion dollar empire – and Brian wasn’t sure how he’d react to his request.

In between takes, Brian approached the Dragon and asked him for a donation to support the Dragon Boats in this, the year of the Dragon. Without hesitation, Jim reached into his heart and donated money from his own pocket, proudly signing his name on Brian’s pledge sheet. A Dragon supporting the Dragon Boats.

With people like Brian, and all of those in our community who participate, donate, support, watch, and cheer for the racers – our very own Dragon slayers – a cure must be in our future.

Check out www.dragonboatsonline.com to read about the event. Check out www.cbc.ca/thebigdecision to learn more about the show and stay tuned for details about how we can support our local contestants and for viewing party details at air time!

Tracy Pringle, Director, Business Retention & Expansion for the WindsorEssex Economic Development CorporationTracy Pringle is the Director, Business Rentention & Expansion for the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.

Business Retention and Expansion: How is THAT economic development?

By Tracy Pringle

In my role as Director of Business Retention and Expansion for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, I’m often asked to explain how business retention and expansion fits with the overall goals of economic development in our region. It’s a great question, and if you’ve worked in sales, or purchased something that required service after the sale, you’ll understand how it works.

“After Sales Support and Service” is a critical component of any major purchase decision we make as consumers, and in good businesses, it’s an important part of the offering to their customers. When we purchase a new gadget, maybe a cellphone or a laptop, we might purchase a maintenance contract that will provide technical support and upgrades as part of our contract. A new car typically comes with some kind of warranty that guarantees support from the dealership or the manufacturer should we experience mechanical problems down the road. When we have maintenance work done on our homes we’ll usually look for a contractor who provides a warranty on workmanship.

Business Retention and Expansion is kind of like that. Our job is to assist local companies, whether they’ve been here forever or are new to the area, keep their businesses in the community. We offer training programs, facilitated sector seminars, access to current economic data and regional intelligence that helps them grow their businesses.

Why the focus on existing businesses? Because 80% of job growth in any region comes from the businesses that are already there. Businesses that are financially committed to their communities. Here in Windsor-Essex, there are approximately 12,000 businesses operating. Some are large, some small, and others somewhere in between; all of them contributing to our regional success.

Imagine the impact on our local economy and jobless rate if each of those businesses added 1, 2, 5 or 10 employees over the course of a year… I’ll share more about how we’re doing this in my next post.

Discover more about the resources we offer at www.choosewindsoressex.com.

Tracy Pringle, Director, Business Retention & Expansion for the WindsorEssex Economic Development CorporationTracy Pringle is the Director, Business Rentention & Expansion for the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.