London Community News
Emerging Leaders held our Annual General Meeting Thursday evening (Sept. 13), with 110 members and community in attendance. We were sold-out, an unusual thing for an AGM but perhaps this is because there is more and more of a need by London residents to get involved in finding ways to move our city forward.
It is obvious that London has had a difficult time over the last three years. We have seen the closure of manufacturing plants, we have the second highest unemployment rate of Canada’s big cities, and the youth cohort, the 18- to 24-year-olds, has the highest unemployment numbers in 10 years. Things are not great and that is why now, more then ever, we should find the partnerships necessary to move our city forward.
Richard Florida, author of The Creative Class, said in his book that in order to fuel an entrepreneurial culture, a city needs three things. The so-called Three T’s are: Talent, a highly talented/educated/skilled population; Tolerance, a diverse community, which has a ‘live and let live’ ethos; and Technology, the technological infrastructure necessary to fuel an entrepreneurial culture.
Locally, Kyle Clements, a master’s candidate in geography at Western, said in his thesis, Attracting and Retaining the Highly Skilled in Medium-sized City-regions of Ontario, “The findings from both Western University and Fanshawe College support the findings of the ‘Three T’s Reference Report’ conducted by the Martin Prosperity Institute, which indicated that the city-region of London does not rank well on educational measures of human capital, and is below peer city-region averages of the brain drain/gain index, suggesting that significant numbers of students are leaving London after graduation.”
Emerging Leaders’ focus is to attract, retain, and engage London’s 20- to 44-year-old talent through programming, advocacy, and partnership. This year we have refocused and are launching a number of programs and collaborations that focus on retaining our talent and partnering to create the conditions needed to help grow London’s future. You can see a full list of our programs on our website, www.emergingleaders.ca, but I want to focus on two specifically.
The first, Work in London: An Emerging Leaders Symposium, is a follow up to our Work in London Survey. In the survey we found that 57.1 per cent of respondents are somewhat or very likely to leave London in the next 10 years. The majority, 63.9 per cent, have a bachelor’s degree, and only 58.4 per cent of them have full-time employment. The symposium will present research about what other cities with a similar mix of population and industry have done to keep and attract talent.
After presenting this, we will ask participants to take what they have learned and at round-table sessions suggest ways to improve this in London. We will take this input and create policy directions that Emerging Leaders can advocate for and seek partnerships at the federal, provincial, and municipal government levels to try and implement these policies.
The second is called Re-Tain. This program, which we offer to employers, provides businesses in London with a way to engage their employees in the professional, cultural and community life of the city. This initiative will introduce the participants to everything from our growing cultural sector to sports in London.
We will connect them to organizations and groups that are engaging London residents in a wealth of areas from politics to poverty to geek culture. We will tour important sectors such as health, higher education, and our growing digital sector. By doing this, we hope to create stronger ties to our community for the participants, while providing opportunities to network and learn. Emerging Leaders believes that if you feel you belong, you are less likely to leave London. We want these participants to feel like they belong in our community.
Emerging Leaders believes in London and we know that for London to thrive and grow there must be an environment for talent to remain and flourish. We want to be a part of that solution.
Sean Quigley is the executive director of Emerging Leaders London Community Network. He can be reached at 226-289-2360 or by email at email@example.com.