While Windsor remains the unemployment capital of Canada, youth are finding their own way to create jobs and make opportunities for themselves and others.
Michael Difazio, 24, is owner of Michael Difazio Reclaim Artistry, a shop which takes old materials and turns them into something new, using his own artistic flair.
He started restoring materials as a hobby when he was 19, taking old windows and turning them into mirrors, chalkboards and other items. He then moved on from there to making larger objects, such as tables and bar tops. Currently, a large part of his business come from custom orders.
Difazio is working out of a building at 1023 Drouillard Rd., which he is in the process of buying.
While some Windsorites say they need to leave in order to find a job, Difazio said if entrepreneurs continue growing their businesses, it could show other residents what is possible.
“If we kind of keep our own mindset of what works here, eventually people will see that and they’re going to eventually see the opportunity that we created for ourselves,” said Difazio.
Difazio added Windsor is also a good place for entrepreneurs because of its low cost of living, which can help people just starting their business.
For Meaghan Marton, rent is not a big concern because she created a program that is volunteer-based, but she still thinks Windsor is the best place to find these opportunities.
“As opposed to going somewhere else that I’m unfamiliar with, why not stay in a city where I already know people, I have connections with and use those connections and that network to make a difference in my community,” said Marton, 22, who runs a non-profit youth boxing program at Border City Boxing Club, also on Drouillard Road.
Marton said it’s important for Windsorites to recognize they can help change the Rose City.
“You know that our city needs people like myself and people that are passionate and they can change and you kind of recognize that Windsor is a great place to be but it could be even better and we have to be the ones that are going to make it better.”
New owner of Milk Coffee Bar Arsh Bhatia said though he doesn’t consider himself an entrepreneur yet, not until he’s renovated his business and received positive feedback, he still wants to create something for Windsor.
The University of Windsor business student said he wants to work with other businesses downtown, to not only learn from them but also collaborate with them.
“I think that’s what Windsor really needs, especially the downtown area, they need collaboration between businesses to make downtown Windsor great again,” said Bhatia, 22.
Bhatia said if youth promote what the city offers, more people will see what’s special about it.
“There’s a lot of draw to Windsor and more draw means more jobs,” said Bhatia.
In addition, Bhatia said in identifying what’s special about Windsor, people may also see what can be improved to make it a bigger draw.
“If you see a problem, fix it. Work with others to fix it. That’s how I see it. That’s how it should be in Windsor. That’s how we can all grow as a community.”